A FI­NAL NIALL IN THE COF­FIN

Irish Daily Mirror - - SPORTS -

With the scor­ing rate hav­ing dropped con­sid­er­ably af­ter half­time as the game be­came frac­tured and nig­gly, that ad­van­tage ap­peared to be con­sid­er­able.

But Port­laoise’s Craig Rogers was sent off with seven min­utes to go and Moore­field soon equalised through an Eanna O’con­nor goal. In the fourth minute of in­jury time, Niall Hur­ley­lynch kicked the win­ning point for the

Kil­dare cham­pi­ons.

The sense of missed op­por­tu­nity would have been com­pounded for Port­laoise when they learned af­ter the game that hold­ers St Vin­cent’s had been shocked by Rath­new, who Moore­field went on to beat be­fore tak­ing the pro­vin­cial ti­tle with an even more dra­matic smash and grab raid against St Lo­man’s in the fi­nal.

“On one level, you’re look­ing at the team that beat you go­ing on to win it so you take a bit of in­cen­tive from that to drive on for the next year be­cause you know that you were within a point pos­si­bly your­selves of go­ing all the way,” re­flects Port­laoise man­ager Malachy Mcnulty (above).

“But ob­vi­ously it’s bal­anced with ex­tra dis­ap­point­ment be­cause you know you’ve come so close to get so far and you’ve to go back to the draw­ing board and start all over again.

“The man­ner of the loss was very frus­trat­ing. Three points up on the home run with five min­utes to go and they nabbed a goal and a point and the rest is his­tory. They ran out win­ners.

“We’re look­ing, a year on, for ways to bridge that gap and not let that hap­pen again,” he adds, as the two meet once again at the same stage in New­bridge to­mor­row.

Port­laoise have just won their 11th Laois SFC in 12 years but the fact that they’ve only one pro­vin­cial ti­tle to show for their ef­forts in that pe­riod is nat­u­rally a source of frus­tra­tion.

Hav­ing won the se­nior ‘A’ (sec­ond tier) hurl­ing ti­tle in Laois, Port­laoise are com­pet­ing in the Le­in­ster In­ter­me­di­ate Hurl­ing Cham­pi­onship and, re­mark­ably, for­mer county star Cahir Healy (in­set), one of three dual play­ers, is com­mut­ing from his Lon­don base for both teams.

“It’s mas­sive credit to the man,” Mcnulty ac­knowl­edges. “It shows a huge amount of pride that he has in his club.”

AFL star Zach Tuohy, cur­rently on the books of Gee­long, has turned out for Port­laoise at stages over the years when home, as he is at the mo­ment, but it won’t be hap­pen­ing now.

“He’s in re­hab from a lit­tle pro­ce­dure so he’s def­i­nitely not a fac­tor for us. He’d be off the radar,” Mcnulty added.

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