It took two late points for St Joseph’s to shake off a determined challenge from Portarlington in the opening quarter final of the Sparrow Insurances Senior Football championship at O’Moore Park on Friday evening in a tie that the losers will long rue the chances they missed in a game that was there for the taking.
Laois Senior Football Championship Quarter Final
St Joseph’s 0-11
A young St Joseph’s side will be delighted to be in a semi final but for a Portarlington side that dominated for long periods, shot 12 wides, hit two many shots short and missed at least three golden goal opportunities, they will know that the spot was also there for them. They may be consoled by the fact that their youthful side are probably the most improved team in the county this year and if they can build on this then they have a bright future indeed.
Full credit to the Saints and their manager Paul Campion who has guided this youthful team, without so many long serving stalwarts, farther than many people expected but he also watched as his forwards missed a number of gilt edged goal chances.
They certainly showed great maturity after going behind to Portarlington midway through the second half to again come back and grab the lead. Despite having everything thrown at them in the final minutes, they held out for a three point victory.
They got off to a tremendous start with three points on the trot, had a shot for goal saved and were unlucky not to have a penalty when a crucial call went against them 10 minutes in.
They went on to lead by 0-5 to 0-1 after 20 minutes but were then held scoreless in the final 10 minutes of the half when Port hit two points and were inches wide with a shot for goal and had another shot heading for the target only for a defender to block it to safety.
In that opening half St Joseph’s certainly played the better team football and took their chances well but Portarlington time and again took the wrong options and gave away ball too cheaply.
In the opening seconds Jason Campion was in for a goal but his blistering shot was saved in the square and cleared to safety. However he quickly followed up with two magnificent points as he first caught a great ball under pressure, turned and kicked it over and then landed a superb point from a tight angle.
In the 10th minute he again caught a great ball in the big rectangle and was immediately flattened to the ground for what looked a definite penalty but to the amazement of all in attendance the referee awarded a free against him. It was a baffling decision and it was lucky that the decision did not count at the end of the game against St Joseph’s.
A nervous Portarlington side took all of 13 minutes to register their opening score through Jason Moore but St Joseph’s hit back with a massive long range point from Noel Garvan and another from his midfield partner Brian Brennan for a four point lead.
Twenty-six minutes into the game Port were through a for a goal but with Dermot Kelly off his line, Jonathan Fullam’s shot for the net was saved by a courageous Liam Kealy. Portarlington were on top in many sectors now at the end of the first half and Kevin McGrath hit an excellent point followed by an Eoin Gleeson 40m free but they spurned another chance to grab the lead as Stuart Mulpeter was inches wide with a rasping shot from inside the big rectangle.
St Joseph’s led at the break 0-5 to 0-3 but Port continued that dominance after the break and hit three points on the trot to take the lead. Adam Ryan hit two massive points from outfield to level within four minutes and then great play by the same player put Jonathan Fullam through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat he hooked the ball over the bar. Minutes later Jason Campion was through for what looked a certain goal but his shot was brilliantly saved by the keeper for a ‘45 that Dan Dunne converted to tie up the game again at 0-6 each.
Kevin Campion combined with Matthew Campion for a fine point from the latter to edge Joseph’s clear again and a hard working James Doyle added another to put his side two clear midway through the half.
Then amazingly Port manager Dermot Murphy made a treble substitution with the game still very much alive as Jonathan Fullam again left the minimum between the sides and as Dermot Kelly was twice called into action to save his side.
With Port having missed so many chances it was St Joseph’s that finished the stronger side and points from Liam Kealy and James Doyle gave them a three point advantage but they had to withstand a grandstand finish in injury time as one final attack by Port ended with David Murphy’s shot for an equalising goal brilliantly saved and cleared by Dermot Kelly.
Scorers: St Joseph’s; James Doyle 0-3, Jason Campion 0-2, Dan Dunne 0-2f, Brian Brennan, Noel Garvan, Matthew Campion 0-1, Liam Kealy (free) 0-1 each. Portarlington Adam Ryan 0-3, Jonathan Fullam 0-2, Eoin Gleeson 0-1 free, Jason Moore and Kevin McGrath 0-1 each
St Joseph’s: Dermot Kelly, Ian Donnelly, Martin Reilly, Murtagh Condron, Ian Dunne, Liam Kealy, Kevin Campion, Brian Brennan, Noel Garvan, Jason Campion, James Doyle, Matthew Campion, Dan Dunne, David Brennan, Adam Campion. Subs: PJ Rowan for Ian Dunne (27 mins), Michael Keogh for Adam Campion (43 mins)
Portarlington: Gary Lanigan, Evin Lyons, Keith Bracken, Padraig O’Dwyer, Sean Ml Manley, Stuart Mulpeter, Hayden Weldon, Cathal Ryan, David Murphy, Kevin McGrath, Adam Ryan, Brian Cleary, Jonathan Fullam, Jason Moore, Eoin Gleeson. Subs: Kenneth Hoey, Stephen O’Neill and Shane McAuley for Padraig O’Dwyer, Kevin McGrath and Brian Cleary (49 mins).
Referee: Joe Brennan Crettyard.