Evan O'Carroll was on top form again for Crettyard
At half-time, this contest looked set for a tight finale, with both sides playing some good football and tackling hard. However, Crettyard went up a few levels after the break, and left Portlaoise Intermediates in their tracks completely.
Portlaoise had no answer for Crettyard forwards Evan O’Carroll and Lee Salter, while Cormac Murphy put in a man of the match display, scoring a spectacular 3-2 from midfield.
Crettyard started brightly with Cormac Murphy winning the throw-in, sprinting up the field and, without hesitation, drove the ball between the uprights.
Lee Salter grabbed another point after the full-forward was alive to Evan O’Carroll’s free that dropped short. Portlaoise responded confidently though, as they kicked three points in a row to take the lead. Veteran Craig Rogers got two of those points, one from a free and the other from a mark, while Johnathan Rafter raised the third white flag.
Evan O’Carroll (free) and Lee Salter nudged Crettyard back ahead, but Portlaoise’s main man, Craig Rogers, restored their slim advantage once again with another two points of his own. In between those points, Portlaoise keeper Michael O’Connell pulled off two excellent saves to deny Crettyard.
O’Carroll found the target twice, while Salter sent over another to give Crettyard a two point lead. Aaron Rafter replied with a fisted effort for after some strong pressing by the Portlaoise forward line won the ball back.
O’Carroll and Johnathan Rafter exchanged points before the half-time whistle blew, as Crettyard held a 0-8 to 0-7 lead in a very competitive first half of football in Ratheniska.
However, the competitive nature of the contest ended right there. Crettyard came out of the break and went for Portlaoise’s throat by firing in six second-half goals.
O’Carroll curled over a beauty upon the resumption, before he set up the first of the six goals. Lee Salter was given space inside the square, and buried a shot low and hard past O’Connell. Goal number two arrived shortly after, as O’Carroll was dragged back inside the square, and Cormac Murphy dispatched the penalty with conviction.
Then Murphy scored the goal of the game, and possibly a goal of the year contender. When the midfielder picked up the ball, there didn’t appear to be any danger from a Portlaoise perspective. However, Murphy showed a blistering turn of pace by going past five Portlaoise challenges and finishing low into the corner.
Substitute Cristoir Maher extended Crettyard’s lead, before Portlaoise’s Ben Conroy finally got them on the scoreboard for the second-half. That score was only met by another Crettyard goal though, and this time it was O’Carroll who found the net.
Things didn’t get much better after the water break for Portlaoise, as some quick passing between Michael Nash, Patrick Brennan and Evan O’Carroll resulted in Brennan burying goal number five for Crettyard.
Rogers (free) replied for Portlaoise, but Cormac Murphy was proving unstoppable, as he again showed serious speed to get in for a sixth Crettyard goal.
Portlaoise grabbed a consolation goal through substitute Jamie Keenan, but they now need to pick themselves for a quarter-final.
Scorers: Cormac Murphy 3-2 (1-0 pen), Evan O’Carroll 1-6 (0-2 frees, 0-1 45’, 0-1 mark), Lee Salter 1-3, Patrick Brennan 1-0, Cristoir Maher 0-1
Team: Darren Kelly; Brian O’Sullivan, Ciaran Hosey, Eoin Delaney; Cormac Phelan, James Brennan, Pa O’Reilly; Cormac Murphy, Niall Purcell; Ciaran Burke, Patrick Brennan, Michael Nash; Brian Brennan, Lee Salter, Evan O’Carroll. Subs: Sean O’Shea for Delaney (HT), Cristoir Maher for B Brennan (40 mins), James Kelly for Phelan (46 mins), Michael Jordan for Purcell (51 mins), John Murphy for O’Sullivan (53 mins)
Scorers: Craig Rogers 0-5 (0-3 frees, 0-1 mark), Jamie Keenan 1-0, Johnathan Rafter 0-2, Ben Conroy, Kevin Swayne and Aaron Rafter 0-1 each
Team: Michael O’Connell; Jack O’Connell, Chris Lynch, Dean Lynch; Murray Rogers, Colin Finn, Niall Carey; Andrew Swayne, Ross Brennan; Ben Conroy, Ben Brennan, Kevin Swayne; Aaron Rafter, Johnathan Rafter, Craig Rogers. Subs: Eoin Carey for A Swayne (49 mins), Michael Nerney for R Brennan (49 mins), Jamie Keenan for J Rafter (49 mins), David Finn for N Carey (52 mins), Johnathan Rafter for M Rogers (56 mins, inj)
REFEREE: Des Cooney (St Joseph’s)