Portlaoise 2-13 Emo 0-07
Portlaoise claimed a ninth Laois SFC title in succession, following a 2-13 to 0-07 win over Emo in tonight’s replay in O’Moore Park.
The Town side led from the fifth minute until the end, with Zach Tuohy and Paul Cahillane bagging 1-02 each for the 32-time Laois winners.
The sides were tied at 0-01 apiece early on, but Portlaoise took firm control and moved 1-08 to 0-01 clear after 28 minutes, with Tuohy netting their goal after just six minutes.
Emo cut the gap to eight points at the break thanks to a brace of Paul Lawlor pointed frees, and were hopeful of continuing that momentum on the restart, following a strong start to the second half in the drawn encounter.
Pat Ryan’s charges fought hard but found it hard to get scores, and when Paul Cahillane bagged Portlaoise’s second goal with 21 minutes remaining, there was no doubt that Malachy McNulty’s side would claim yet another county crown.
Emo were unchanged from the team that drew with Portlaoise six days ago, but Portlaoise opted for three changes in personnel with Aussie Rules player Tuohy earning a call-up, having scored two points as a substitute last time out, while Dean Cullen and Eoghan Whelan were also included in the side.
Both sides were eager to make a strong start to this contest, with Cahillane firing over a pointed free in the opening minute, before Lawlor quickly equalised for Emo.
However, Emo wouldn’t score for another 25 minutes, as Portlaoise firmly stamped their mark on this game.
Tuohy pushed Portlaoise ahead, before finishing the ball to the net, after a well placed pass from Brian McCormack, to take a 1-02 to 0-01 lead after six minutes.
Mick Lawlor, who scored two goals last time out, was man-marked by Cahir Healy, with the Laois dual player impressive up against the 42-year old.
Portlaoise continued to lay strong pressure on the Emo defence, with Cahillane unlucky not to bag his sides second goal soon after.
Scores from Craig Rogers, Brian Smith and Tuohy ensured a 1-06 to 0-01 lead after 20 minutes, before a second Smith score opened up a nine-point gap.
Scoring opportunities were rare at this stage for Emo, although Nigel Murphy did force Portlaoise keeper Graham Brody to make a save.
Conor Boyle added his name to the score-sheet with a 27th minute point, before a brace of Lawlor points ensured a 1-08 to 0-03 interval score-line.
Emo needed to replicate their second half performance of the drawn encounter if hopes of a first title since 1972 were to be kept alive. However, this failed to materialise as Portlaoise continued to add to their tally.
Man of the Match Smith brought his tally to three points, before McCormack ensured a 10-point gap between the sides two minutes after the restart.
At the opposite end Darren Strong forced a save from Brody, with Emo hungry for goals at this stage.
Lawlor also tried to penetrate the Portlaoise defence to no avail, while it was Emo’s defence that was breached for a second time, when Cahillane netted after a good ball from Rogers.
2-10 to 0-03 ahead after 39 minutes, Portlaoise looked destined to complete their hat-trick when Tuohy got through on goal, by Emo keeper Paul Kirwan was equal to his shot.
Emo eventually broke their scoring dead-lock with a Strong free, while Lawlor added his fourth point with 10 minutes remaining.
Michael Lawlor received a standing ovation as he was substituted in the 50th minute, and while the teams were balanced late on, it was much too late for an Emo recovery.
Portlaoise won’t have long to celebrate as they will have to refocuse for an AIB Leinster Club Championship Preliminary Round tie against Carlow champions Palatine at Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday afternoon at 2.30pm.
Portlaoise: G Brody; D Seale, C Healy, E Whelan; P Cotter, K Lillis, B Mulligan; C Boyle (0-01), Z Tuohy (1-02); G Dillon, C Rogers (0-01), D Cullen; B McCormack (0-02), P Cahillane (1-02, 2f), B Smith (0-04). Subs: C Finn for Glynn (41); R Maher (0-01, 1f) for Rogers (51); C Dunphy for Dillon (53); L McGovern for Cahillane (64); K Fitzpatrick for McCormack (68).
Emo: P Kirwan; S Murphy, S Carney, P Dunne; D Strong (0-01, 1f), N Wheeler, R Ryan; E Costello (0-01, 1f), M Carney; D Gorman, N Murphy, B Gorman; G Brophy, M Lawlor, P Lawlor (0-05, 5f). Subs: F Crowley for D Gorman (29); C Lawlor for B Gorman (42); J O’Rourke for M Lawlor (49); J Coman for Dunne (53); D Whelan for Kirwan (54)
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Stradbally)