(Match report from Laois Today)
Portlaoise made an immediate return to the Intermediate grade with their second team following success in O’Moore Park yesterday.
Ronan Molloy’s charges were too powerful for Barrowhouse in the Junior A decider.
In testing conditions in O’Moore Park, they won their ninth junior title and first since 2005, the last time they were at this level.
Though it was a relatively young Portlaoise team, they did have plenty of experience dotted around the pitch.
Craig Rogers is one of the club’s most decorated players of all time, Brian Smith and Colin Finn have played in multiple senior finals and Conor Dunphy, only a couple of weeks back from Australia, previously played in a Leinster club final.
Dunphy was very good in the opening half as Portlaoise played against a stiff wind.
And it was his brilliantly-taken 15th minute goal that was the difference between the sides as Portlaoise led 1-5 to 0-5 at the break.
With the wind, they extended that lead in the second half to win well in the end.
It was absolutely lashing rain throughout the game and it didn’t let up at full time either.
But it did not deter the supporters and players who celebrated with the cup afterwards.
Portlaoise: Conor Dunphy 1-2, Craig Rogers 0-4 (two frees), Michael Culleton 0-2 (frees), Ben Brennan 0-2.
Barrowhouse: Lee Day 0-4 (two frees), Fergal Murphy 0-2 (one free), Brian Malone 0-1, Emmet Malone 0-1 (mark)
PORTLAOISE: Michael O’Connell; Michael Dowling, Jack O’Connell, Gavin Skehan; Jamie Preston, Colin Finn, Gary Whelan; Ben Brennan, Ben Reddin; Josh Hogan, Craig Rogers, Conor Dunphy; Michael Culleton, Chris Mulhall, DJ White. Subs: Conor Brown for Mulhall (39), Josh Hogan for O’Connell (39), Ben Conroy for Culleton (49), Brian Smith for Smith (55), Niall Carey for White (55)
BARROWHOUSE: Darragh Phelan; Joshua Devereux, Tom Page, Denis Brophy; Kodi Dunne, Thomas McDonald, Padraig Whelan; Martin Murphy, Lochlann Kelleher; TJ Burke, Brian Malone, Alex Kenny; Lee Day, James Baldwin, Fergal Murphy. Subs: Sean Phelan for Devereux (injured – 25), Ruairi Grufferty for Page (injured – 37), Sean Langton for Whelan (44), Emmet Malone for Kenny (48), Pablo Byrne for Dunne (56)
REFEREE: Maurice Deegan (Stradbally)
Michael Dowling was excellent for Portlaoise on Barrowhous’s danger man James Baldwin and Ben Brennan was hugely effective in midfield, even allowing for his black card late in the first half.
But Conor Dunphy was the best player on the pitch. Having won a couple of senior medals with Portlaoise, he had been living in Australia for the past couple of years.
But he returned to Portlaoise in recent weeks and immediately linked back up with the club. He was exceptional here with his cracking first half goal a key score in their win.