By Pat Delaney
TWO weeks previous Ruairi Murray scored an injury time point from a free and after leading for most of the game, Rosenallis capituated with the winning post in sight.
On Bank Holiday Monday the sides met again at Mountrath and after two hours of hard hurling the sides were still locked together having been level at the interval 0-8 apiece.
Once again, mainly Ruairi Murray and Aaron Bergin, for Portlaoise, shared the scoring honours. Bergin converted two early frees as did Murray while Joe Keating and Sean Culliton traded points from play. From this early stage it was obvious that it was going to hard separate these two well matched teams.
Conditions were simply awful and, for the first time since its revamping, St Fintan’s Park was like a quagmire making it impossible to stand on, let alone hurl but both teams gave it everything.
The second half followed a similar pattern with defences on top at either end. Chris Lynch kept tabs on Rosenallis danger man John Lennon but ten minutes from time Lennon got away to score the game’s opening goal. It looked as if might this might decide the game.
But after points were traded Portlaoise led by one and the finish line was in sight. However, Rosenallis forced a free and again Murray levelled matters and at full time the score line read Rosenallis 1-12 Portlaoise 0-15.
Conditions were getting worse and both teams were tiring, in particular Rosenallis as many of their players were involved in an impressive football victory over the Heath three days earlier, and Portlaoise had football celebrations to attend to.
Fiachra Fennell posted an early point for Rosenallis in extra time and a second by Cathal Fennell put two between the sides. Gary Bergin and Sean Culliton replied for Portlaoise leaving the score at half time 1-14 to 0-17.
The final segment saw Portlaoise add three points without reply and looked home and hosed until Rosenallis forced a close in free. Despite a bit of afters the free stood as the saga entered the 140th minute.
Portlaoise lined up and Stephen Kelly made the journey down from goal. He took aim and blasted through a wall of defenders and the green flag signalled the end of part two of a thrilling saga.
Part three is scheduled for Saturday but might be played on Friday if venue is available. O’Moore Park is out of bounds as Portlaoise have a Leinster club football championship engagement this weekend.
ROSENALLIS: Stephen Kelly (1-0); Jack Conroy, Eoin Kelly, Fiachra Fennell; Eoin Carroll, Tomas Keating, Cormac White; Cillian Callally, Ruairi Fennell; Walter Murphy (0-1), Cathal Fennell (0-1), Ruairi Murray (0-8); Joe Keating (0-2), John Lennon (1-2), PJ Fitzpatrick.
Subs: Paul Lynch for Fitzpatrick (35m), Tomas Skelly for Carroll (37m)
PORTLAOISE: Philip Roche; Brian Naughton, Chris Lynch, Frank Flanagan; Pauric O’Neill, Ciaran McEvoy (0-2), Caolan Murphy; Cian Taylor (0-4), Dean Lynch; Aaron Bergin (0-7), Ray Nerney, Niall Gleeson (0-1); Sean Culliton (0-3), Gary Bergin (0-3), James Nerney.
Subs: D Delaney for Nerney (50m), Shane Whelan for Murphy (54m)