Portlaoise remain on course for Leinster club SFC glory after they defeated Emmett Óg Killoe on Sunday to set up a Leinster final showdown with Ballymun Kickhams.
Portlaoise had just three points to spare over the Longford champions at the weekend in a thrilling game at O’Moore Park, and they will now look forward to a provincial final in Cusack Park, Mullingar on December 9.
It will be Portlaoise’s eleventh appearance in the Leinster final, and they already hold the record for most victories with seven. Their meeting with Ballymun is a repeat of the 1982 final, which Portlaoise won on their way to their, as yet, only All-Ireland club title in 1983.
Ballymun came through their semi-final relatively comfortably, having seen off Kildare champions Sarsfields by six points in Newbridge thanks to four points from ace forward Dean Rock and a goal from Ted Furman. Ballymun will be looking to win a first ever Leinster club title in a little over two weeks time, with the Dublin side the slightest of favourites with the bookies.
Sunday’s semi-final saw Portlaoise put to the pin of their collars for the first time this year, and joint-manager Mick Lillis admitted the Longford side had the upper hand on them in terms of experience. “They were probably more match-fit and match-ready than we were, they had three or four games in Longford that they won by a point, they had extra time in the final, so they were at that level probably before we were, and that’s what made it so difficult.”
It won’t get any easier in the final against a high-flying Ballmun side who are coached by former All-Ireland winning Dublin wing back Paul Curran, but Lillis and co are looking forward to it. “We have a mountain to climb now, but we’re at the foot of it and we’ll give it a go.”
See pages 94 and 95 for match coverage and reaction in this week’s Leinster Express