Camross steamrolled Portlaoise to book their place in the semi-finals of the Laois SHC thanks to a 15 point win on Sunday evening.
The two great rivals of Laois hurling failed to produce one of the classic encounters of years past, as Camross started strongly and never looked back from there.
They were eight points up at half time and despite a spirited spell from Portlaoise early in the second half, it was all one-way traffic, with Murty Delaney’s injury-time goal the icing on the cake.
Portlaoise will have to regroup quickly as Castletown-Slieve Bloom are now lurking on the horizon, but for Camross, things could hardly be going better.
A first round win over Clough-Ballacolla was a surprise to many, and the manner of the win here was surprising too. They were superior in just about every area of the field on Sunday night, with young minor Ciaran Collier in sparkling form at wing-forward, scoring 1-6 from play.
How Portlaoise could have done with him at the other end, as they had only one starting forward score - Noel Costelloe - as they struggled to make any inroads against a resilient Camross defence.
The men in black and amber got off to a great start, with Ciaran Collier pointing twice in the opening minute. Noel Costelloe opened Portlaoise’s account from a free, but another Collier point was followed by a goal from Zane Keenan.
A storming run from Keenan saw him draw plenty of pressure from Portlaoise’s defence, but he managed to get away a one-handed shot which squirmed past Colm Clear.
Andrew Collier added another to make it 1-4 to 0-1 after nine minutes, and Noel Costelloe had to rattle off two points in quick succession to keep Portlaoise’s heads above water.
They were soon ducked back under it however when Aaron Moore teed up Dean Delaney, and his low shot flew past Colm Clear. Ciaran Collier and Delaney pointed either side of a Noel Costelloe point, as Camross lead 2-6 to 0-4 at half time.
Portlaoise started the second half well, with Darragh Duggan, Joe Phelan and Noel Costelloe all pointing to get them within five of Camross. As it turned out, that would be as close as Portlaoise would get for the rest of the game.
Camross responded with three points in a row themselves, as captain Tomas Burke notched two of them and Matthew Collier got the other. Noel Costelloe was again the man to respond for Portlaoise, as he pointed from the left wing, but Camross drove another nail into their coffin moments later.
Ciaran Collier was played in on goal on the left wing, d he cut through to fire an unstoppable shot past Colm Clear to wrap up the game for Camross.
While the final outcome was beyond doubt, there was still plenty of hurling to go, as Collier’s goal came with 15 minutes left, and the rest of the game was a enjoyable time for the vocal Camross support.
Dwane Palmer scored two excellent points and Tomas Burke and Ciaran Collier added one apiece, while Murty Delaney somehow contrived to miss an open goal when played through.
As the game started to fizzle out, Portlaoise had their most successful spell in front of goal as they hit four points in a row, but Camross would finish with a flourish.
Zane Keenan pointed a sideline cut from all of 50 yards, while Murty Delaney made up for his early miss to flick home a goal in injury time to put the seal on a fifteen point win for Camross and seal their place in the semi-finals.
SCORERS - Camross: Ciaran Collier 1-6, Zane Keenan (0-1 sideline), Dean Delaney 1-1 each, Tomas Burke 0-3, Murty Delaney 1-0, Dwane Palmer 0-2, Matthew Collier, Andrew Collier 0-1 each; Portlaoise: Noel Costelloe 0-8 (0-5 frees), Joe Phelan 0-2 (0-1 free), Darragh Duggan, Tony Byrne 0-1 each
CAMROSS: Tadgh Doran; Michael Phelan, Malvin Moloney, Peter Guilfoyle; Martin Burke, Gearoid Burke, Damien Keenan; Zane Keenan, Matthew Collier; Andrew Collier, Tomas Burke, Ciaran Collier; Aaron Moore, Dwane Palmer, Dean Delaney. Subs: Murty Delaney for Moore (33 mins), Oliver Dowling for Delaney (55 mins), Lorcan Burke for A Collier (57 mins), James Palmer for M Collier (59 mins)
PORTLAOISE: Colm Clear; Eoin Browne, Brian Mulligan, Tommy Mulligan; Darragh Duggan, Joe Phelan, Derek Delaney; Cahir Healy, Eoin Costello; Diarmuid Lalor, Keith Murphy, Noel Costelloe; Cian Taylor, Tommy Fitzgerald, Barry Fitzgerald. Subs: Brian Smith for Delaney (14 mins), Tony Byrne for Taylor (half-time), Eoin Phelan for Browne (47 mins - injured), Darragh Rigney for B Mulligan (47 mins - injured)
Referee: Liam Dunne (Clough-Ballacolla)