Arles Kilcruise 1-14
By Pat Delaney
THIS familiar pairing have had many exciting tussles over the past ten years but on this occasion the feeling was that it would be a non-event. F 20 minutes it looked like being a cake walk for Portlaoise as they looked to erase the bitter memories of their last appearance at O’Moore Park.
Arles Kilcruise had suffered defeat to Portlaoise second string in the league but now they had perhaps their strongest team since last year’s championship.
Portlaoise went ahead after just 20 seconds courtesy of a point by Scott Lawless and Paul Cahillane doubled the difference two minutes later.
Portlaoise were totally dominant and by the fifth minute had posted their first goal. Championship debutant Scott Lawless received from Ben Carroll. He found himself in space and sidestepped the unfortunate Cillian Mulhall and beat Ken Kealy.
Gareth Dillon added another point from play before Arles Kilcruise eventually got sight of the Portlaoise goal in the tenth minute but finished wide.
Chris Conway eventually opened his side’s account from a free 13 minutes into the contest. David Conway added a second before Paul Cahillane pointed from play.
Kilcruise were just about settling in when they were stung by another defence splitting move that yielded a well taken goal by Benny Carroll.
Portlaoise piled on the pressure and a great passing movement involving Brian McCormack and Lawless concluded with Cahillane knocking the ball past the unfortunate Ken Kealy with eight minutes still to play in the opening half.
Ross Munnelly opened his account and then added a second. Chris Conway converted a free but Adrian Kelly, Gareth Dillon, Conor Dunphy and David Holland all posted white flags.
Half time was approaching and it looked as if Johnny Irwin could not wait to get his troops off the pitch to avoid further humiliation. Then out of nowhere a perfect ball by David Conway reached midfielder Dermot Nolan. From the edge of the square he slammed past the bemused Graham Brody.
Suddenly the scoreboard looked much better as the teams went to the break although still trailing 1-5 to 3-10 it did not look pretty for Arles Kilcruise.
Whatever Johnny Irwin said inside it had a huge influence on the maroons and for the opening six minutes it was exhibition stuff from Ross Munnelly as he tormented the Portlaoise defence, kicking four points, all bar one from play.
Portlaoise replied but a great goal chance by Conor Dunphy rebounded off the upright.
Kieran Lillis made no mistake with a point but David Conway was now causing problems. He landed a great point and then he set up Dermot Nolan for another and the margin was down to six.
Portlaoise had no answer at this stage but a few replacements were hauled off the bench to quench the fire.
Cahillane had his side’s second point of the half in the 46th minute but Ross Munnelly replied at the other end.
The closing five minutes were exciting. Carroll pointed for Portlaoise but it was fitting that Ross Munnelly had the final say with his eighth white flag making him the game’s top scorer.
Kilcruise expected to be in the losers draw and nobody will want to meet them in this form, but Killeshin face that ask.
Portlaoise expected to win and they know they have work to do especially before meeting O’Dempsey’s in the next round.
PORTLAOISE: Graham Brody; David Seale, Frank Flanagan, Chris Finn; David Holland (0-1), Conor Boyle, Benny Carroll (1-1); Adrian Kelly (0-2), Ciaran McEvoy; Conor Dunphy (0-1), Gareth Dillon (0-2), Kieran Lillis (0-1); Paul Cahillane (1-4), Brian McCormack, Scott Lawless (1-1).
Subs: John Kavanagh for Dunphy (40m), Shane Smyth for Kelly (48m), Kevin Fitzpatrick for McCormack (53m), Brian Mulligan for Finn (54m), Ricky Maher for Carroll (59m)
ARLES KILCRUISE: Ken Kealy; Cillian Mulhall, Sean Meaney, Anthony McElroy; Caomhan Brennan, Colm Munnelly, Mark Wall; Kevin Meaney, Dermot Nolan (1-1); Ross Munnelly (0-8), David Conway (0-2), Ciaran Lawlor; JP Conway, Fran Egan, Chris Conway (0-3).
Sub: Brendan Conway for Lawlor (45m)
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)