Confusion over two late red cards was the talking point after this game buton the field The Harps were deserved winners before the dismissals that angered both sides.
Between them, the sides only managed two points in the opening 23 minutes. Eoin Nealon opened the scoring for Portlaoise but that was quickly cancelled out by a point from Colm Dunphy at the other end.
The scorers weren’t troubled again until the 23rd minute as both sides were guilty of wasting a host of scoreable chances. Eventually there was another effort on target as Greg Aylward put The Haprs in front and Kieran Freeman hit the first of his points soon after to put his side two in front.
Soon after Portlaoise added their second score and it was a timely goal that gave them the advantage at the interval. John Hearnsurged through the defence and while he did not make the contact he would have liked with his shot, he struck it well enough to get it to the back of the net.
Kieran Freeman levelled matters on the resumption but two points from substitute Colm Gleeson put Portlaoise into the lead. Niall Brophy restored parity with a pair of points of his own and then Freeman took control hitting six unanswered points to catapult The Harps into the lead.
Ciaran Costigan added a point while substitute Albert Townsend rounded off the scoring for The Harps. Portlaoise managed just point in the closing stages with Gleeson hitting his third of the game seven minutes from time.Portlaoise’s only contribution during this period came from Gleeson nine minutes from time.
Late in the game, The Harps full-back Sean Cahill was shown a straight red card for an incident most in the ground missed. Portlaoise’s Gary McCormack was shown a yellow card in the final minutes and then a red although he didn’t appear to have received an initial card earlier in the game.
Scorers: The Harps: Kieran Freeman 0-8 (0-6f, 0-1 ‘65); Niall Brophy 0-2; Ciaran Costigan 0-1; Colm Dunphy 0-1; Greg Aylward 0-1, Albert Townsend 0-1. Portlaoise: John Hearn 1-0; Colm Gleeson 0-3; Eoin Nealon 0-1
The Harps: Peter Walsh; Cathal Phelan, Sean Cahill, John Paul Deegan; Shane Fitzpatrick, John Dunne, Ciaran Costigan; Kieran Freeman, Rory Moore; Colm Dunphy, Niall Brophy, Eoin O’Sullivan; Conor Deegan, Shane Brophy, Greg Aylward. Subs: Albert Townsend for Niall Brophy (42mins)
Portlaoise: Philip Roche; Denis Kavanagh, Darren Murphy, Gary McCormack; Alan Murphy, Roc Scully, Padraig O’Neill; John Hearn (1-0), James Nerney; Shane Whelan, Tommy Mulligan, Ray Nerney; Bertie Walsh, Eoin Nealon, Dermot Lawless. Subs: Colm Gleeson for Walsh (24mins), Eoin Phelan for Dermot Lawless (27mins), Frank Flanagan for Shane Whelan (40mins), Jeff Phelan for Eoin Nealon (53mins)
Referee: Kieran Bowe (Rathdowney/Errill)