Laois Nationalist — Who will join Portlaoise and O’Dempsey’s?


By Denis J. Croke

Last night we had two very different quarter-finals.

Portlaoise were simply in a different class to Clonaslee/St Manman on a 0-15 to 0-6 score line. Clonaslee/St Manman’s will look back over time on what has been a historic championship for them. That said, they would have liked to make it more of a game.

MW Hire O’Moore Park’s second game was a thriller. St Joseph’s looked certain to advance to the last four as they trailed by three with just minutes of regulation time remaining. But then O’Dempsey’s replacement Eoin Finlay scored a goal and the Kellyville team crumbled and ended up losing 3-10 to 1-13.

Today’s program begins with the meeting of Graiguecullen and Courtwood. The Barrowsiders look like a team on their way to the top, but Eddie Kinsella’s charges won’t make it any easier for them.

The last of the semi-finals opposes the defending champions, Portarlington and Ballyroan Abbey. The Sky Blues appear to be another side on an upward curve, but Portarlington’s experience could prove to be the difference in this one.

Graiguecullen vs. CourtwooD

It could be an intriguing contest. Graiguecullen has shown signs of progress over the past two years and look like real challengers for the title this year. The Barrowsiders really impressed in the league despite losing to St Joseph’s in the final.

That said, for much of the first half of their opener, it looked like Clonaslee/St Manman’s might pull the clash out of the round. When the Slieve Blooms Foothills team held a four-point lead late in the second quarter, many in the game were scratching their heads.

It turned out Graiguecullen steadied the boat to level the game at the interval and a goal early in the second half saw them through. They then swept the Stradbally challenge.

Courtwood were far too strong for newly promoted Park/Ratheniska in their opener. They struggled a bit to fire Portlaoise in the second round. While the scoreboard showed eight runs as City’s winning margin, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Niall Dunne scored a late goal to give him a better look.

Eddie Kinsella will have his guys well prepared for this, but it’s hard to see them coming away with a win.

Verdict: Graiguecullen

Portarlington v Ballyroan Abbey

With the word being that this will be Martin Murphy’s last term with Portarlington, as he is set to take his place on the touchline from Offaly, they would surely love to complete a magnificent titles hat-trick.

After a not-so-impressive league campaign, once the championship started, they had a whole different look. In the first round, they won in a joint canter. That said, no one was too excited to beat Arles Killeen 2-23 to 2-15.

And it took a last-minute point for Jake Foster to just about edge O’Dempsey’s neighbors into the second round.

Ballyroan Abbey appear to be a club on an upward curve having played in the last four minor finals, winning two. Padraig Clancy mixed the youngsters well with the more experienced players and they overwhelmed Rosenallis in the first round.

The two-point loss at the hands of St Joseph’s was a bit of a setback, but they seeded with the three-goal loss to Ballyfin that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Verdict: Portarlington

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