Portlaoise bounced back from the concession of three first half goals to continue their march towards the top of ACHL Division 1, as they eventually rn out six point winners over The Harps.
On a perfect, sun-kissed evening for hurling, both teams served up what was a very entertaining game, given the time of year, and The Harps will be kicking themselves for not making better use of their good fortune, having lead by five points at one stage in the first half. That they only scored three points in the second half was disappointing also.
They enjoyed the better start to the game, with John Brophy firing over three points in the first five minutes to give them the early adavantage. They switched off after that, however, and Portlaoise took full advantage with points from Noel Costelloe and Joe Phelan bringin them back level, before a superb individual goal from Tony Byrne put them in the driving seat.
Much as The Harps had done when they had gotten themselves ahead, Portlaoise let their lead slip. The Harps got in for three goals in the space of eight minutes to open up a five point lead with six minutes remaining in the half, with Sean Bourke, John Brophy and Ross Young all finding the back of the net.
Portlaoise recovered well from the setback, and points from Noel Costelloe, Keith Murphy and David O’Mahony left them in a much healthier position at half-time, trailing by just three points, 3-8 to 1-11.
The second half was dominated in the scoring stakes by Portlaoise, with Tommy Fitzgerald and Noel Costelloe pointing early to reduce the gap to a single point.
John Brophy stemmed the ever growing tide with a pointed free, but when Noel Costelloe and Tony Byrne played an intricate one-two passing move which resulted in Costelloe firing home a goal, there only really looked line one winner.
Byrne added another point for Portlaoise before David O’Mahony’s stunning goal, when he doubled on a long ball in by Joe Phelan, all but secured Portlaoise’s victory.
The Harps attempted to launch a late comeback, but they couldn’t manufacture the goal they needed, with the Portlaoise defence repelling whatever came their way to hang on for the win.
SCORERS - Portlaoise: Noel Costelloe 1-8 (0-6 frees), David O’Mahony 1-3, Tony Byrne 1-1, Tommy Fitzgerald 0-3, Keith Murphy, Joe Phelan (free) 0-1 each; The Harps: John Brophy 1-6 (0-4 frees, 0-1 65), Sean Bourke, Ross Young 1-0 each, Barry Dunne (65), David Freeman, Aidan Galvin, Shane Donohue, John Prior 0-1 each
PORTLAOISE: Colm Clear; Brian Mulligan, Eoin Browne, Daragh Rigney; Derek Delaney, Brian Smith, Joe Phelan; Tommy Fitzgerald, Dermot Costelloe; Keith Murphy, Noel Costelloe, Rock Scully; Philip O’Connell, Tony Byrne, David O’Mahony.
THE HARPS: Kevin Galvin; Shane Phelan, Kieran Fitzpatrick, Tommy Moore; Conor Dunne, Brian Galvin, Barry Dunne; David Freeman, Brian Dunne; Aidan Galvin, Sean Bourke, Shane Donohue; John Prior, John Brophy, Ross Young. Subs: Fintan Deegan for Young (45 mins), Michael Lanigan for A Galvin (49 mins), Pakie Flynn for B Galvin (52 mins)
Referee: John Lalor (Shanahoe)