AIB Leinster club SFC: Portlaoise make no mistake

November 28, 2009

John O'Hara of Clara with Brian Glynn of Portlaoise during a foggy AIB Leinster club SFC semi-final at O'Moore Park
By Cóilín Duffy Portlaoise (Laois) 1-9 Clara (Offaly) 0-3 Despite weather conditions again playing havoc with this fixture, the AIB Leinster Club SFC final pairing is now finally known as Portlaoise advanced to next week's decider following a nine-point victory this afternoon at O'Moore Park. This game was abandoned last Sunday due to heavy rain and wind, but Meath referee Joe Curley failed to sound the full-time whistle early despite heavy fog conditions throughout. Although the fog was light before the restart, it suddenly became denser - but this failed to deter both sides who began this game at great pace. Both teams missed opportunities in the opening minutes with Matthew Mitchell blazed a chance wide for Clara, before Barry Fitzgerald kicked an effort into the hands of Clara keeper John Buckley for the hosts. However Portlaoise were first to register a score from only their second attack as goalkeeper Buckley failed to stop Paul Cahillane's effort from going over the crossbar. Despite conditions worsening Clara took control with two quick-fire points from John O'Hara and Thomas Deehan pushing them to a 0-2 to 0-1 lead by the 12th minute. Goal misses followed from both sides with former Laois player Colm Byrne watching his effort shoot across the face of the goalmouth, while John Reynolds failed to despatch a 17th minute penalty, after Stephen Deehan was brought down by Michael Nolan inside the box. Scores were at a premium in the second quarter with a brace of Barry Fitzgerald frees pushing Portlaoise to a 0-3 to 0-2 interval lead, although Clara dominated possession in the closing stages of the half. Portlaoise kept up momentum on the restart with a 36th minute Cahillane penalty goal pushing them four points clear. The former Celtic player made amends for missing a penalty last week as he firmly despatched his shot to the right corner. John Mulligan's charges failed to ease up during the closing quarter as a flurry of points from Peter McNulty, Cahillane, Brian Smyth and Jack Fennell provided the insurance to put the Laois champions into their ninth decider and a first since 2004. Clara's woes were compounded late on with the 59th minute dismissal of key attacker Stephen Deehan through a second yellow card. Portlaoise - M Nolan; E Bland, C Healy, M McNulty; B Mulligan, K Fitzpatrick, K Lillis; A Fennelly, B McCormack; C Rogers, B Glynn, P McNulty 0-2; P Cahillane 1-3 (1-0 pen), C Byrne, B Fitzgerald 0-2 (2f). Subs: B Smyth 0-1 for Fitzpatrick (HT); C Boyle for Byrne (55); J Fennell 0-1 for B Fitzgerald (59); C Higgins for Mulligan (60). Clara - J Buckley; D Kelly, A Cronin, D Baggot; P Mitchell, M Mitchell, L Hiney; S Brady, E Brady; T Dalton, J O'Hara 0-1, G Guilfoyle; S Deehan 0-1, J Reynolds, T Deehan 0-1 (f). Subs: J Quinn for Baggot (38); P Deehan for O'Hara (43); M Rosney for Cronin (54); J Ledwith for P Mitchell (55). Ref - Joe Curley (Meath)

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