Kieran Lillis on the attack against Stradbally. Pic: Denis Byrne.
Portlaoise doled out one of the biggest ACFL Division 1 defeats in recent history on Thursday night, as they beat Stradbally by forty points in Bill Delaney Park.
Malachy McNulty's charges had three goals scored by the fifth minute, and they just kept piling on the misery for the home side from there to the end. Stradbally were the last team to inflict a championship defeat on Portlaoise, back in the 2016 final, but that all looked a lifetime ago on Thursday night.
Ronan McEvoy, John Kavanagh and David Holland all got early goals, but Stradbally managed to steady the ship to an extent, as Tom Shiel got them up and running, and at half time it was 3-6 to 0-5.
The second half, however, was a bloodbath, as Stradbally were faced with wave after wave of attacks, and were powerless to stop them. Portlaoise added another seven goals, with Bruno McCormack, Conor Boyle, Ricky Maher and Kieran Lillis all scoring one each, and John Kavanagh adding three more, to leave an incredible total of 40 points between the teams at the final whistle.
Portarlington recovered from their own humbling to Portlaoise the week before by beating Ballylinan 2-11 to 0-7 in McCann Park.
It was all the more remarkable for Portarlington as they didn't score for the opening 20 minutes, but Ballylinan hadn't done enough to punish them for that wasteful period.
Gary Walsh had gotten Ballylinan off to a bright start, and they led 0-3 to 0-0 after 18 minutes, before Jake Foster got Port on the scoreboard with a point. That seemed to do the trick for the home side, and they dominated the remainder of the half, and indeed, the game.
Graham Weldon and Gary Walsh traded points before Adam Ryan struck for a goal, and Port took a lead they would not relinquish. David Murphy added another goal just before half time, and Port lead 2-2 to 0-4 at the break.
The second half was one-way traffic for the most part, with Jake Foster and Adam Ryan leading the scoring charge. Ryan finished with 1-3 as Portarlington ran out ten point winners.
In Kellyville last night, St Joseph's saw their unbeaten run come to an end when they were edged out by The Heath by just one point.
The final score was 2-12 to 1-14 to the visitors, in what was a closely fought game throughout. Robbie Ging's first half goal had given The Heath the early impetus, but St Joseph's pulled ahead early in the second half, with Tom Kelly and Brian Daly coming to the fore. However, a second Heath goal from Brian Ging saw them claim a one-point win. The win moves The Heath level on points with St Joseph's in second place, while Portlaoise now sit top of the table by a point.
There was controversy in the last game played last night also, as O'Dempsey's and Graiguecullen was declared a draw by referee Joe Brennan, although O'Dempsey's claimed they had won by two points.
The alleged mix up appeared to come in the first half, when a Daniel McCormack goal had seen O'Dempsey's take what they thought was a share of the spoils at 1-3 to 0-6, but instead the score was given as 0-7 to 1-2. Despite protests from the Killenard men at half time, during the second half, and after the game, the score was not altered.
Míchael Finlay added a goal in the second half for O'Dempsey's, but it was only good enough for a draw in the end, as the game finished 2-9 to 1-12.