AIB Leinster club SFC: Portlaoise in seventh heaven

December 06, 2009

Portlaoise players celebrate after winning the AIB Leinster ckub SFC final - INPHO
By Cóilín Duffy Portlaoise (Laois) 1-9 Garrycastle (Westmeath) 1-5 The Sean McCabe Cup is resting in Portlaoise for the seventh time after the 14-man Laois champions had a hard-fought four-point victory over Westmeath side Garrycastle at O'Connor Park, Tullamore this afternoon. John Mulligan's charges overcame the 28th minute dismissal of key forward Peter McNulty through a second yellow card, and a determined comeback by Garrycastle in the second half. Longford referee Derek Fahy certainly exerted his authority with one red card and seven yellow cards despite what was a reasonably sporting encounter. Portlaoise led from the off with a brace of early points from 2003 All-Ireland Minor winning captain Craig Rogers setting the tone in the opening four minutes. The Leinster roll of honour leaders were in fine form in the opening quarter and held Garrycastle to just one point in this period, with corner forward Paul Dillon slotting over in the seventh minute. It was a mixture of youth and experience which pushed Portlaoise to a five-point lead by the 15th minute with Paul Cahillane, defender Kevin Fitzpatrick, midfielder Aidan Fennelly and full-forward Colm Byrne on target for 'the Town'. But as Garrycastle strengthened their defence with the introduction of Tom McHugh, Anthony Cunningham's charges pushed back into contention to cut the gap to 0-6 to 0-3 with five minutes to go before the interval. Garrycastle's efforts were further strengthened with the dismissal of Peter McNulty as the interval approached, although a second Cahillane point pushed Portlaoise into a 0-7 to 0-3 half-time lead. Both sides began the second half with a bang, with both goals delivered inside 40 seconds in the 35th minute. Firstly Garrycastle edged within a point of the Laois champions after Gary Dolan palmed a Patrick Mulvihill delivery to the back of the Portlaoise net. But Portlaoise responded immediately with a superbly taken goal from Man of the Match Barry Fitzgerald which provided the catalyst for victory. Scores suddenly were at a premium as defences stood firm. Garrycastle failed to score in the final quarter as the Westmeath outfit kicked six second half wides, and also had a number of chances land in the hands of Portlaoise keeper Michael Nolan. After the game Brian McCormack became the seventh Portlaoise man to accept the Sean McCabe Cup following the presentation by Leinster Council Chairman Seamus Howlin. Portlaoise - M Nolan, E Bland, K Fitzpatrick (0-1), M McNulty, B Mulligan, C Healy, K Lillis, A Fennelly (0-1), B McCormack, C Rodgers (0-2), B Glynn, P McNulty, P Cahillane (0-2), C Byrne (0-1), B Fitzgerald (1-2, 0-1f). Subs: J Fennell for Byrne, C Boyle for Glynn, B Smyth for Rogers A Kelly for Mulligan. Garrycastle - C Mullin, P Rattigan, J Gaffey, E Mulvihill, M McCallon, K Henson, D Harte, S O'Donoghue (0-1), D O'Shaughnessy, J Dolan, D Dolan (0-1, f), P Mulvihill, P Dillon (0-2, 1f), G Dolan (1-1), J Duignan. Subs: T McHugh for Rattigan, A Browne for O'Shaughnessy, D Hermbusche for McHugh, S Mulvihill for P Mulvihill, A Daly for Duignan. Ref - Derek Fahy (Longford)

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