Paul Cahillane shoots for Portlaoise. Pic: Alf Harvey,
The Ballylinan full back line struggled to contain the intimidating threats of both Brian ‘Bruno’ McCormack and Paul Cahillane throughout the match, particularly Cahillane who ended up with a personal haul of 1-6 and deservedly received the man of the match award.
However, individual awards mean very little to Cahillane, who showed that for Portlaoise’s third goal. The game was well over as a contest at this stage, and Cahillane could’ve easily added a second goal to his impressive tally, but opted unselfishly to pass the ball to substitute John Kavanagh instead.
“Relief is the overriding emotion at the minute. We were chasing the championship all year. It started back in November. We really, really worked our socks off throughout the year. We left no stone unturned, did everything right. It pays off on days like this, and I’m so happy we got through the work we did all year.”
Ballylinan would’ve been a fresh challenge from other teams Portlaoise would’ve faced in county finals in the past, and Cahillane was impressed with how they stood up to Portlaoise.
“The score definitely didn’t reflect their effort. It just went away from them in them in the last ten minutes. For the first fifteen, it was nothing more than we expected. It was a serious battle.
“We knew they were going to bring a ferocity that they hadn’t brought before and we hadn’t met before, so we were ready for the battle. They caught us on the hop a few times early on, but we stayed focussed and stuck to the game plan and ground it out in the end.”
Cahillane is another experienced member of this great Portlaoise side, but he believes that the lads who came in for other experienced members of the panel throughout the year, filled their boots brilliantly.
“They were all brilliant. To lose five or six starters of the quality we did was difficult. The lads that stepped in, though, and I think I speak for the rest of the lads, in that they’ve performed so well throughout the year.
“They’re serious, serious footballers and players that will be looking to push on and win more county titles and possibly even represent Laois.”