Arles Killeen 3-9
By Pat Delaney
THE senior football championship came to life on Saturday night when Arles Killeen and Portarlington produced a thrilling second half display that ended all square and perhaps the fairest result. However, both sides will bemoan missed opportunities to win the contest.
Portarlington came out all guns blazing with three well worked points by the Murphy brothers and sandwiched in between a Jonathan Fullam classic.
Killeen were penned back in their own half until the seventh minute when the Kingston brothers combined for Donie to feed the well placed Jason Enright who buried the ball in the net with his left foot and the sides were level.
Portarlington responded in style with four more unanswered points again the Murphys were to the fore, David with three splendid efforts and another by Colm from play.
Mick Leigh then made a splendid save to deny Portarlington a goal that might have put daylight between the teams but Colm Murphy put did five between the teams after 17 minutes.
Killeen were out of the game at this stage but a great defence splitting movement saw Donie Kingston set up Donie Brennan and from close range he slotted the ball under the keeper. There followed three great points by Donie Kingston and Jason Enright that saw the Magpies take an unexpected lead.
But it was short lived as Evan Lyons equalised five minutes before the break.
Enright and Lyons traded points before the break to leave the sides level, Arles Killeen 2-4 Portarlington 0-10.
Robert Piggott kicked Portarlington back in front within a minute of the resumption and David Murphy added another but Donie Kingston replied for Killeen after 36 minutes.
Then came a turning point when former Killeen captain Shane Julian was sent off on a second yellow card and at this stage it looked as though the game was Portarlington’s to lose.
Colm Murphy kicked a point before a superb ball from Eoin McCann reached substitute Jake Foster and with a beautiful flick he hammered into Mick Leigh’s net.
Again Enright and Lyons traded white flags before a great link up between Donie Brennan, who picked out Paul Kingston, and he hammered home from close range.
Steven Lyons landed a great point for Portarlington and they were three clear entering the final quarter.
Killeen have found themselves in similar positions before and when Donie Kingston kicked over from play and converted a free the margin was back to the minimum.
Portarlington hit two bad wides and with five minutes remaining Killeen were awarded a close in free. Jason Enright took responsibility and slotted the equaliser.
Donie Kingston then saw a great effort just drift wide with three minutes remaining. At the other end Jake Foster squeezed the ball between the uprights to edge the maroon clad side in front as injury time approached.
From the kick out Killeen eventually got into a scoring position but a foul on Paul Kingston afforded Enright another opportunity and he made no mistake.
There was still time for another score and again Foster was in sight of a winner but his effort was deemed to be deflected by a defender. Brian McAuley came outfield to kick what would be the winner but his effort dropped short and the full time whistle sounded.
A bit of handbags followed but nothing serious and both sides will relish another battle on Thursday evening in O’Moore Park.
ARLES KILLEEN: Mick Leigh; Joe Mulhare, James Mahon, Niall O’Rourke; John Mahon, Shane Julian, Cathal Moran; Joe Mahon, Donie Kingston (0-5); Enda O’Rourke, Paul Kingston (1-0), Jason Enright (1-4); Conor Keightley, Donie Brennan (1-0), Sean O’Shea.
Sub: Shane Byrne for Joe Mahon (47m)
PORTARLINGTON: Brian McAuley; Diarmuid Bennett, Hayden Weldon, Dean Foster; Pat O’Sullivan, Cathal Ryan, Robert Piggott (0-1); Jonathan Fullam (0-1), Eoin McCann; Jason Moore, David Murphy (0-4), Steven Lyons (0-1); Evan Lyons (0-3), Colm Murphy (0-4), Graham Weldon.
Sub: Jake Foster (1-1) for C Ryan (h/t)
Referee: Seamus Mulhare (The Heath)