Emo 2-09 Portlaoise 0-15
An injury-time pointed free from Paul Lawlor earned Emo a 2-09 to 0-15 draw with Portlaoise in the Laois SFC final in O’Moore Park.
Portlaoise came back from the dead, as a run of six unanswered points, including a Brian Glynn score saw them take the lead.
Nine-in-a-row title chasers Portlaoise looked good early on and led by 0-08 to 0-05 at half-time, with Craig Rogers and Paul Cahillane accounting for half of their tally.
Emo bounced back on the restart thanks to two quick goals from 42-year old Michael Lawlor, and moved 2-08 to 0-09 ahead in the final quarter.
But Portlaoise worked hard with Aussie Rules player Zach Tuohy levelling the tie, before Glynn pushed them ahead, only for Lawlor to claim a late equaliser.
Not since 1972 had an Emo team won a Laois SFC title, and with Portlaoise chasing a ninth county title in succession, the county town side were odds on to claim victory in this decider.
The teams last met in the 2004 final, with Portlaoise claiming a comfortable nine-point win before going on to take Leinster honours, and being subsequently defeat by Ballina Stephenites in the All-Ireland club final.
Portlaoise’s experience looked like once again coming to the fore, but they started sluggishly with the sides level at 0-02 each following a Gareth Dillon score at the end of the first quarter.
However, the Laois kingpins firmly took control and led by 0-07 to 0-03 after 27 minutes, before taking a three-point interval lead, after a late rally by Emo approaching the break.
In the second half the challengers were fired up and quickly set out their stall, outscoring Portlaoise by 2-03 to 0-01 in the 10-minute spell after the restart.
Michael Lawlor levelled mattered with a well struck goal after 34 minutes, and although Brian McCormack edged Portlaoise ahead, Lawlor responded with yet another close-range goal.
Scores from Paul Lawlor and Evan Costello pushed Emo 2-08 to 0-09 clear, but amazingly they wouldn’t score for a further 24 minutes, as Portlaoise got on top.
Kieran Lillis, son of recently appointed Laois manager Mick, kicked started the Portlaoise comeback.
Substitute Tuohy point cut the deficit to a point with nine minutes remaining, before defences got on top.
Another Tuohy score levelled matters in the 59th minute, before Glynn pushed Portlaoise in front.
However Emo failed to give up, with Paul Lawlor’s free in the fourth minute of injury-time, ensuring a draw in a Laois SFC Final for the first time since 2001.
Portlaoise: G Brody; D Seale, J Delaney, C Finn; P Cotter, K Lillis (0-02), B Mulligan (0-01); C Boyle, C Healy; G Dillon (0-01), C Rogers (0-02), C Dunphy; B McCormack (0-02), P Cahillane (0-03, 0-02f, 0-01 45), B Smith (0-01). Subs: R Maher for Dunphy (40); E Whelan for Mulligan (42); Z Tuohy (0-02) for Cotter (47); B Glynn (0-01) for Finn (55).
Emo: P Kirwan; S Murphy, S Carney, P Dunne; D Strong, N Wheeler, R Ryan; E Costello (0-02, 0-02f), M Carney; D Gorman (0-01, 0-01f), N Murphy, B Gorman; G Brophy, M Lawlor (2-00), P Lawlor (0-06, 0-06f). Subs: F Crowley for D Gorman (50); C Lawlor for B Gorman (55).
Referee: Davy Moore (St. Joseph’s)