Stradbally Parish Gaels caused the shock of the U-21 championship in Park-Ratheniska last Saturday as a late goal from Cormac Delaney knocked Portlaoise out of contention.
Stradbally Parish Gaels 2-6
Sean Ramsbottom and Cormac Delaney 1-0 each, Conor Delaney (one free) and Ruari O'Connor (one free) 0-2 each, Simon Shortall and Michael McEvoy 0-1 each
Paul Cahillane 1-0, Zach Tuohy 0-3 (two '45s), Craig Scully 0-2, Chris Mulhall and Barry McEvoy 0-1 each
Having only scraped a draw thanks to a late Ruari O'Connor penalty two weeks before, Stradbally Parish Gaels improved considerably. They didn't score any more than they did in the drawn game but they kept Portlaoise quieter at the other end and the second-half goals from Delaney and Sean Ramsbottom helped Stradbally book a semi-final meeting with The Heath Gaels this weekend.
Simon Shortall converted a free in the fifth minute of play to get the scoring underway. This was followed closely by Zach Tuohy but Conor Delaney put his side back in front with a great score from 50 metres out. The teams were trading points when Barry McEvoy levelled for Portlaoise.
Straight from their kick-out after Portlaoise's second point Conor Delaney pointed from play but points from Craig Scully and Chris Mulhall left Portlaoise leading 0-4 to 0-3 at the break.
Tuohy stretched the Stradbally defence immediately after the restart when his shot hit the right hand post but Conor Delaney responded to this miss and sent over a free for Stradbally Parish Gaels to level things up again.
Stradbally then dropped the ball short into Portlaoise goalie, Colin Rochford's hands. As a direct result of this, Portlaoise rattled the net at the other end of the field. Tuohy coming in from the left, passed off to Paul Cahillane on the other edge of the square. The former Celtic player took a solo, forcing goal keeper, Robert Kelly to come off his line and the centre forward sent the ball to the left hand corner of the net.
Stradbally hit back with a free from Ruair O'Connor and they then took the lead when Sean Ramsbottom finished soccer-style to the net.
Michael McEvoy and Craig Scully traded points but gradually the Stradbally defence got on top as John Scully, Joe O'Connor and Martin O'Connor snuffed out numerous dangerous Portlaoise attacks.
Tuohy landed '45 to level things up but a brilliant turnover from Ciaran Hennessy sent Stradbally on the attack again and Ruari O'Connor set Cormac Delaney up for the match-winning goal. Another '45 from Tuohy left two points as the game moved into injury time and Stradbally held on.
STRADBALLY PARISH GAELS: Robert Kelly; Kevin Molloy, John Scully, Martin O'Connor; Colin Beale, Joe O'Connor, Kieran Delaney; Michael McEvoy, Sen Ramsbottom; James Whelehan, Simon Shortall, Cormac Delaney; Ruair O'Connor, Conor Delaney, Simon Miller. Subs: Michael Kelly for James Whelehan (half-time), Ciarn Hennessy for Simon Miller (43 mins)
PORTLAOISE: Colin Rochford; Murray Rogers, David Browne, JP Seale; Kieran Lillis, Paul Cotter, Conor Boyle; Brian Glynn, Craig Scully; Joe Joe Salmon, Paul Cahillane, Zach Tuohy; Barry McEvoy, Adrian Kelly, Chris Mulhall. Subs: Evan Prendergast for Murray Rogers (50 mins), Ricky Maher for Barry McEvoy (52 mins)
Referee: David Murphy (Portarlington)