Laois Shopping Centre ACFL Division 1 Rd 10
By Kieran Murphy
GRAIGUECULLEN kept alive their slim hopes of making the final of the All Counties Division 1 League when they produced an uneven performance to see off the challenge of Portarlington in Graiguecullen on Thursday.
To make the decider they would need to beat second placed Portlaoise away from home in one of their remaining games and hope results go their way. On top with only one defeat out of ten games O’Dempsey’s won’t be caught.
The green and reds mixed the good with the bad. A Ronan Coffey point got Portarlington off to a good start but the eventual winners hit back when Aaron Forbes took possession and off-loaded to Danny Doogue who found the net on six minutes.
Graiguecullen played some great football with Chris Hurley and Jamie Parr combining to put in Dale Byrne for a point.
Portarlington were on the back foot with Jamie Parr, Luke Aylsbury and Hurley all making their presence felt on the scoreboard.
Graiguecullen suffered a set-back in the second quarter when Jamie Parr was black-carded after committing a foul after falling on the ground. It was a tight call but referee, Seamus Mulhare, probably figured the centre-forward had prevented Portarlington setting up an attacking move.
The incident didn’t do Graiguecullen any harm at all with their substitute, Ian Fleming, scoring three points and helping his side into a 1-8 to 0-4 interval lead.
On a chilly evening that seven point lead looked like a match winner. Portarlington thought differently and went about rescuing the game. Jake Foster knocked over four frees in that second period.
The home side completely lost their discipline and coach, Kevin Doogue, ended up on the bank after having words with the referee.
Danny Bolger, the Graiguecullen keeper, likes to come forward to take frees but this time he earned his corn with a string of fine saves to deny Jonathan Fullam, Stephen O’Neill and Jordan Fitzpatrick. A Portarlington goal would surely have given them the points.
The home side were hanging on. In the space of a minute Bolger and Eoin Aylsbury were yellow-carded for time wasting. Portarlington played most of the football in the second half with their rivals only scoring two points.
Ross Alcock’s 33rd minute point came when he collected a ballooned effort from Danny Doogue. On 44 minutes Ross Hennessy’s score was needed as he peeled away from his marker at the dressing room end of the ground.
The full-time whistle was a welcome sound for the home side against a Portarlington side who only needed a break which didn’t come.
GRAIGUECULLEN: Danny Bolger; Mark Doyle, Shane Aylward, Eoin Aylsbury; Luke Aylsbury (0-2), Chris Hurley (0-1), Danny Aylsbury; Shane O’Neill, Ross Alcock (0-1), Jamie Sheehan, Jamie Parr (0-1), Ross Hennessy (0-1); Dale Byrne (0-1), Aaron Forbes, Danny Doogue (1-0).
Subs: Ian Fleming (0-3) for Parr (black card 22m), Niall O’Rourke for D. Aylsbury (59m)
PORTARLINGTON: Sean Mooney; Dean Foster, Hayden Weldon, Conor McCarthy; Colm Slevin, Jason Moore (0-1), Graham Weldon; Eoin McCann, Jonathan Fullam; Tadgh Tully, Stephen O’Neill (0-2), Ronan Coffey (0-2); Jake Foster (0-5fs), Jordan Fitzpatrick (0-1), Dave Condron.
Subs: Alex Mohan for Condron (h/t), Eoin Kennedy for Tully (h/t), Podge Dwyer for G. Weldon (62m)
Referee: Seamus Mulhare (The Heath).