By Denis J. Croke
FEW would have predicted this score line in O’Moore Park on Thursday evening. Portarlington had suffered a bad defeat at the hands of Arles Killeen in the opening round while Graiguecullen went down poorly to Ballylinan.
It has been a dismal year for Portarlington but they put it all behind them when they ran riot against the Barrowsiders in this game. Five points separated the sides at half time but Graiguecullen were to score just one point in the second half.
When Portarlington upped the pace in that period Graiguecullen collapsed and by the end looked like a side that did not want to be on the pitch.
The winners laid down an early marker when they got their first goal after Jake Foster (2) and David Murphy points to one from Ian Fleming gave them the early advantage.
Then 12 minutes in Graiguecullen keeper attempted to keep a Robert Pigott effort going over for a point but fumbled the ball which Kevin McGrath ran on to and fist to the net.
Graiguecullen battled back into contention after Ambrose Doran converted two frees and Fleming scored from play. Another Doran brace was matched by Murphy and Stuart Mulpeter while a late double strike from Murphy left Portarlington leading 1-7 to 0-6 at the break.
Portarlington would have been very happy at this stage as they had played into the teeth of a very strong wind in the opening period.
McGrath and Dora swapped points just after the restart but thereafter Portarlington took complete control as Graiguecullen collapsed.
Foster and Murphy converted frees while McGrath landed a lovely point on the run. Jonathan Fullam then landed a massive point to open up an eight point gap after 41 minutes.
It was all over a minute later when McGrath gathered Paddy O’Sullivan’s pass, turned his marker and rattled the net for a second time.
Foster landed a point as did Aaron Forbes for Graiguecullen’s last score of the game in the 54th minute.
It was no great surprise when Foster went on to score the last three points of the game, but Graiguecullen might have had a consolation goal when Portarlington keeper Brian McAuley brought off a magnificent recation save to deny Forbes.
PORTARLINGTON: Brian McAuley; Sean Byrne, Cathal Ryan, Diarmuid Bennett; Jason Moore, Stuart Mulpeter (0-1), Robert Pigott; Keith Bracken, Patrick O’Sullivan; Evan Lyons, David Murphy (0-6, 0-3f), Steven Lyons; Jake Foster (0-7, 0-6f), Kevin McGrath (2-2), Jonathan Fullam (0-1).
Subs: Graham Weldon for E Lyons (45m), Stephen O’Neill for S Lyons (50m), Eoin McCann for O’Sullivan (58m)
GRAIGUECULLEN: Patrick Scully; Trevor Collins, Ross Alcock, Wayne Humphries; Thomas Brennan, Liam Kearney, Bobby Doyle; Patrick Murphy, Michael Hand; Daniel O’Reilly, Brian Byrne, Chris Hurley; Ian Fleming (0-2, 0-1f), Aaron Forbes (0-1), Ambrose Doran (0-5, 0-4f).
Subs: Shane O’Neill for Kearney (42m), James Bolton for Fleming (45m), Sean Farrell for O’Reilly (45m), James Doogue for Doran (53m, inj)
Referee: John Flynn (The Rock)