LAOIS SHOPPING CENTRE SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1
Courtwood produced a stunning performance based on intensity and work rate on Thursday night to spark scenes of joy as they defeated Portlaoise in the opening round of the championship.
Inspired by Danny Luttrell who kicked 1-5, the evergreen Niall Donoher and a tigerish defensive unit, they were full value for the win.
They were hanging on at times in the second half and Portlaoise kicked 12 wides but they won't care about that as they got the win and now move on in the championship.
Courtwood wasted no time in getting off the mark as Danny Luttrell clipped over a free on 55 seconds to get them off to the perfect start. Their lead was doubled seconds later when Niall Dunne got his first of the evening as Portlaoise began the game on the backfoot.
It took Portlaoise seven minutes to get on the scoreboard thanks to a Ricky Maher free before a sublime effort from the outside of the boot of Kieran Lillis brought the sides on level terms with nine minutes on the clock.
Luttrell kicked Courtwood back into the lead but Damon Larkin struck back immediately before Ricky Maher edged 'The Town' back in front.
On 14 minutes, Portlaoise had a man sent to the sin bin and controversially so. Sean O'Flynn was racing out with the ball and as Ronan McEvoy attempted to tackle him, the pair got locked together and O'Flynn brought McEvoy to the ground. Referee Clifford Ward adjudged the Portlaoise man of dragging O'Flynn to the ground when in fact it was the Courtwood defender that looked to have committed the foul by bringing McEvoy to the ground.
Courtwood equalised before the water break through Cian Doyle but Portlaoise hit the ground running after the break and found the net on 20 minutes.
Brendan Carroll and Kevin Swayne played a neat one-two before Carroll found Paul Cahillane on the edge of the square and the ace marksman made no mistake in finding the net to give them a 1-4 to 0-4 lead.
Courtwood responded in fine style and took over the game. Two frees from Luttrell and an excellent curling effort from Niall Dunne drew them level minutes before the break.
Eddie Kinsella's men then made a big breakthrough. With two minutes left to half time, Portlaoise keeper Michael O'Connell's poor kickout was intercepted and Danny Luttrell duly punished him by coolly slotting to the net to put them 1-7 to 1-4 ahead ahead at the break
Portlaoise got the perfect tonic at the start of the second half when Kieran Lillis powered through the middle, beat a couple of defenders and curled over a lovely left footed effort.
Portlaoise had a couple of chances to narrow the lead but they didn't eat into it any more until the 42nd minute when Paul Cahillane played in an inch perfect pass to Brendan Carroll and the Laois star did the rest, raising a white flag to leave it a one point game.
It stayed a one point until the water break but you got a sense that Portlaoise had more of an attacking threat for the final quarter. Courtwood were defending for their lives with bodies back but once they got it up the field, they struggled, with Portlaoise extremely strong in forcing the turnovers.
After a wide from Conor Boyle shortly after the water break, Courtwood had a rare trip to the danger area in the second half an they almost found the net when corner back Nathan Little's shot just edged wide of the post as the game still remained 1-7 to 1-6 in favour of Courtwood with eight minutes to go.
Danny Luttrell landed an inspirational score with four minutes to go floating over a long range free but with the next attack, it was back to a one point game when substitute David Holland fired over for Portlaoise.
Tensions were high on the field but Paul O'Flynn did give Courtwood a two point cushion on 58 minutes and now Portlaoise were on the hunt for goals.
There was no way through though as the well organised Courtwood defence held firm and secured a famous win.
Scorers: Paul Cahillane 1-0, Kieran Lillis and Ricky Maher (0-1f) 0-2 each, Damon Larkin, Brendan Carroll and David Holland 0-1 each.
Team: Michael O'Connell; Chris Finn, Josh Hogan, Ben Dempsey; Kevin Swayne, Gary Saunders, Gareth Dillon; Kieran Lillis, Conor Boyle; Damon Larkin, Brendan Carroll, Ronan McEvoy; DJ White, Paul Cahillane, Ricky Maher. Subs: John Kavanagh for DJ White (ht), Ciaran McEvoy for Ronan McEvoy (ht), Michael Culliton for Damon Larkin (41), David Holland for Kevin Swayne (45), Paddy Downey for Ricky Larkin (45)
Scorers: Danny Luttrell 1-5 (0-5f), Niall Dunne 0-2, Paul O'Flynn, Cian Doyle 0-1 each.
Team: Matthew Byron; Barry Donnelly, Mark O'Halloran, Nathan Little; Sean O'Flynn, Robbie Flynn, Cian Doyle; Conor Hogan, Robert Tyrell; Collins Ugochukwu, Niall Donoher, Danny Luttrell; Alan Kinsella, Niall Dunne, Paul O'Flynn. Subs: Jake Doyle for Barry Donnelly (43), Colm Wilson for Cian Doyle (55)
Referee: Clifford Ward
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