The Portlaoise team that were crowned Laois JHC 'C' champions yesterday evening. Pic: Alf Harvey
Two teams who had very impressive showing in their run to the Junior ‘C’ final, Portlaoise and Ballyfin, collided in O’Moore Park on Wednesday night. It was Portlaoise who had that bit more class about them though, particularly up front and around the middle, where the Mulligan brothers excelled.
Portlaoise 1-13 Ballyfin 0-7
After five minutes it was one point apiece for both teams, with both centre forwards splitting the posts. Derek Delaney placed over a free for Portlaoise, with Sean Lowry responding for Ballyfin from the resulting puck-out.
The nerves were obvious in the opening stages, as cagey and ugly hurling was on show for the first quarter. Sean Lowry scored his second to edge Ballyfin in front, after good work from Adam Walsh.
Portlaoise found their groove the quicker, and had the first goal chance of the game. Michael Fogarty played Jack Dooley through on goals, but the full forward was well blocked on the goal line by the Ballyfin defenders and goalkeeper.
Derek Delaney levelled the game, before Portlaoise did get their goal. Michael Forgarty’s size was the main factor in this one, as Ballyfin couldn’t contain him, and he slotted home inside the square.
Portlaoise finished the half outscoring Ballyfin three points to one, and led 1-5 to 0-3 at the break.
Ballyfin , who had a large and very vocal support with them on the evening, needed a fast start to get them back in the thick of things. However, Portlaoise started the second half where they left off in the first, as the grabbed the opening two scores.
Derek Delaney fired over his third two minutes after the restart, before Eoin Fitzpatrick followed suit, as Ballyfin struggled to get out of their own half.
It looked unlikely, even though there was twenty-five minutes of normal time remaining, that Ballyfin would stage a comeback. Shane Conroy pointed a free for Ballyfin, but twelve minutes came and went before the next score arrived. It wasn’t Ballyfin who got it either, as Jack Dooley raised a white flag, before Derek Delaney did the same.
Ballyfin cut the gap to six through Ronan McGrath, but Derek Delaney and Tommy Mulligan replied strongly for Portlaoise. Tommy Mulligan (free) and Ronan McGrath swapped points, before captain and substitute Denis Kavanagh landed the last score of the match, and headed up to the trophy presentation to lift the silverware.
Scorers: Derek Delaney 0-5 (0-2 frees), Michael Fogarty 1-0, Tommy Mulligan 0-3 (0-2 frees), Jack Dooley 0-2, Brian Mulligan, Eoin Fitzpatrick and Denis Kavanagh 0-1 each
Team: James Brown; Brian Seale, Darren Murphy, James Grennan; Sean Cotter, Diarmuid Lalor, Brian Devaney; Tommy Mulligan, Brian Mulligan; Tristan Tobin, Derek Delaney, Niall Fitzpatrick; Eoin Fitzpatrick, Jack Dooley, Michael Fogarty. Subs: Denis Kavanagh for N Fitzpatrick (34 mins), Ed O’Dwyer for Brown (34 mins, inj), Jeff Phelan for Grennan (39 mins), Cian Dowling-Byrne for Fogarty (46 mins), Stephen Phelan for Tobin (63 mins), Jamie Dooley for E Fitzpatrick (63 mins), Paul Shalloe for Jack Dooley (63 mins), Mikey Nerney for Devaney (64 mins), Daragh Carey for Delaney (66 mins), Greg Dunne for Cotter (66 mins)
Scorers: Shane Lowry 0-3 frees, Ronan McGrath and Sean Lowry 0-2 each
Team: Paul Dunne; Brian Dowling, Paul Connolly, Cillian Rowney; Ciaran Fingleton, Dermott McGill, Ciaran Rowney; Adam Walsh, Alan Strong; Shane Conroy, Sean Lowry, Dan Molloy; Paddy Hyland, Ronan McGrath, Matt Lalor. Subs: Cillian Dunphy for Lalor (27 mins), Garry Molloy for Hyland (36 mins), Tom Bennett for Cillian Rowney (64 mins), John Downey for Connolly (65 mins)
Referee: Padraig Dunne (Colt)