In a bitterly tight game in Ratheniska on Thursday last, the scoreboard couldn’t separate the sides as Portlaoise and Graiguecullen ended all square in the opening round of the championship.
Football IFC Round 1
It took until the ninth minute to open scoring, and it was Portlaoise that did so with a free from Ricky Maher to give them the advantage early on. Graiguecullen replied three minutes later for their first score of the day through Brian Byrne to level the proceedings.
Portlaoise struck again after nineteen minutes, this time Laois Senior goalkeeper turned centre-forward, Graham Brody, setting up Liam McGovern for the first goal of the day after twenty minutes to see Portlaoise take the lead.
Graigue went on to notch 1-1 in two minutes, with Danny Doogue claiming the goal, while Ethan O’Neill grabbed the point as Graigue took the lead. The teams closed out the half half with an exchange of points between Aaron Forbes and Malachy McNulty to see Graigue hold a narrow one point lead at the break.
The second half proved to be a low-scoring affair with just seven points in total, four for Portlaoise and three for Graiguecullen to see them level at the final whistle. Portlaoise retook the lead eight minutes into the second half following points from Martin Staunton and Murry Rogers, but a Barry Regan point four minutes later put the teams on level par once again.
Portlaoise retook the lead late in the game thanks to Dean Cullen and Staunton, but Graigue found enough in the tank to claim a draw with late points from Danny Doogue and Brian Byrne’s injury-time leveller to tie the game.
Scorers - PORTLAOISE: Liam McGovern 1-0; Martin Staunton 0-2, 0-1f; Ricky Maher (f), Malachy McNulty, Murry Rogers and Dean Cullen (f) 0-1 each. GRAIGUECULLEN: Danny Doogue 1-1; Brian Byrne 0-2; Ethan O’Neill, Aaron Forbes (f) and Barry Regan 0-1 each.
PORTLAOISE: Chris Lynch; David Browne, John Delaney, Brian McCormack; Donnacha O’Reilly, Malachy McNulty, Dean Lynch; Ciaran McEvoy, James Nerney; Donal Fitzgibbon, Graham Brody, Murry Rogers; Martin Staunton, Liam McGovern, Ricky Maher. SUBS: Shane McManus for Donnacha O’Reilly; Dean Cullen for Ricky Maher; Gareth Dillon for Liam McGovern.
GRAIGUECULLEN: Peter Brannigan; Jamie Malone, Patrick Murphy, Shane Aylward; Luke Alsybury, Bobby Doyle, Trevor Collins; Liam Kearney, James Doogue; Barry Regan, Conor Regan, Brian Byrne; Ethan O’Neill, Aaron Forbes, Danny Doogue. SUBS: Dale Byrne for Conor Regan.