Portlaoise are well on target for a record six Laois senior football titles in a row as they completely outplayed a fiercely disappointing St Joseph’s side in the second Sparrow Insurance semi final at O’Moore Park on Sunday.
Laois Senior Football Championship semi-final
St Joseph’s 0-4
They finished with a 19 point winning margin without ever having to extend themselves as they cantered to a facile victory.
While this was classic Portlaoise football, it has to be said that the quality of the opposition on the day left a lot to be desired and those that came expecting a competitive semi final game were left short changed as it produced probably one of the most one sided contests at this stage in memory.
The statistics speak for themselves with St Joseph’s only scoring two points in sixty minutes of football and Portlaoise, without any urgency at any time, hitting a massive 2-17. St Joseph’shaving marched to the semi final on merit left all of their previous form behind them and looked like a team that were overwhelmed before they started and a team that lacked a plan or tactics to even compete with the five in a row champions, let alone one that would beat them.
Perhaps too much was expected from this young St Joseph’s side but they certainly were only a pale imitation of those that have worn the club jersey with such distinction in the past. Perhaps it was just a step too far to soon.
Portlaoise having come to the semi finals without being overly impressive, except when coming from 1-4 down in the quarter final against Stradbally, certainly upped their performance considerably and looked like a team on a mission from the moment they galloped onto the pitch.
It was their first complete performance of the year and with Tommy Fitzgerald back in defence, it looked more like a championship chasing team again.
He formed an old full back line with Cahir Healy and Brian Mulligan and with his brother Barry in a potent full forward line with Bruno McCormack and Paul Cahillane it was the strongest side fielded by Portlaoise to date this year. McCormack and Cahillane hit 1-5 each with Bruno only given 40 minutes to accumulate his amazing total.
Bruno was on fire as he hit points from all angles and finished his goal with style while Cahillane gave an outstanding display of leadership with an all action display as he popped up all over the field with some deft touches, making and taking scores.
Conor Boyle was another at the top of his game and apart from hitting three tremendous points from play, along with the impressive Adrian Kelly controlled the middle of the field while Hugh Coghlan again gave a forceful attacking display
Cahillane opened with a close range free and then sent a delightful cross to Bruno McCormack who pointed from the tightest of angles and followed with a super attacking point that involved Bruno and Brian Smith.
The game was 10 minutes old when wing back Kevin Campion came forward to hit a determined point from play for St Joseph’s but alas his side were not to score again until the 24th minute of the second half.
A delightful move ended with Conor Boyle’s first point and minutes later Boyle set up Bruno for his second score.
Then came The Towns first goal as a long ball in from Paul Cotter landed inside the defence and in a race for possession Cahillane just got his boot and chipped it from goalie Dermot Kelly’s grasp to guide it inside the left post.
Conor Boyle cantered through the Joseph’s defence to land the next point as the challenge from the challengers further deteriorated and Cahillane had a hand in the next two Bruno McCormack points with Boyle finishing off the sequence for a 1-9 to 0-1 half time lead.
It was unrelenting from The Town in the second half with Hugh Coghlan on target from the throw in and Bruno hitting his fifth point as he grabbed a sideline pass from the industrious Craig Rogers. Minutes later Adrian Kelly and Barry Fitzgerald played a one-two before Kelly crossed to the unmarked Bruno and gave his the easiest of tasks of finishing to the net.
Cahillane (2) and Kelly added further points for a 19 point lead before one of the biggest cheers of the day greeted James Doyle’s second score of the day for Joseph’sin the 24th minute of the half.
Further points from Brian Glynn, Barry Fitzgerald and Cahillane gave Portlaoise a 21 point advantage at the end of 60 minutes with St Joseph’s hitting two late points from Jason Campion and long serving Noel Garvan to end a disappointing contest.
Portlaoise: Mick Nolan; Tommy Fitzgerald, Cahir Healy, Brian Mulligan; Paul Cotter, Kieran Lillis, Craig Rogers; Adrian Kelly, Conor Boyle,; Brian Glynn, Hugh Coghlan, Barry Fitzgerald, Paul Cahillane, Brian McCormack, Brian Smith. Subs: Stuart Nerney for Coghlan (39 mins), Zach Touhy for Brian McCormack (41 mins), Brian Gaynor for Brian Mulligan (46 mins), Eoghan Whelan for Paul Cotter (50 mins), John Delaney for Healy (51 mins), Ricky Maher for Glynn (60 mins).
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 (HT), Tony Campion for Adam Campion (50 mins), Michael Keogh for Dan Dunne (57 mins)
Referee: Brendan McCann (Portarlington).