Following on from the loss against Clough-Ballacolla in the opening round of the Championship, The Harps were pitted against Portlaoise in the draw for this second round tie. The Harps travelled to O’Moore Park on Saturday August 16th to face a Portlaoise team who drew with Camross before loosing the resulting replay a fortnight earlier. An overcast and cool evening coupled with a stern breeze greeted both teams onto the field.
The Harps got the first score of the night when Eoin Clancy flicked over a point from play after some clever passing by The Harps. Portlaoise quickly levelled the game when they pointed a free moments later and followed it up with a point from play to take the lead. The game seemed to lull for a while compounded by both sides hitting a few wides. In the twelfth minute, John Brophy picked up a knock to his knee which required some attention – but he was okay to play on and converted the free which he had won. Ronan Delahunty grabbed the Harps third point when he fired over a long-range effort from midfield into the wind – much to the delight of the Harps crowd in attendance.
Portlaoise got back level three minutes later when they fired over a free. The game lulled once more with another six minute barren spell for both sides. However, the Harps upped a gear and in the 24th minute were rewarded when Shane Donoghue’s fine sideline cut found John Boggy Brophy in the large rectangle who caught the ball cleanly, turned his man and blasted to the net to put the Harps three points up. Boggy had a very rewarding spell at the end of the first half – a pointed free followed up by a point from play and another pointed free saw the Harps pull six points ahead in the runup to half time. Portlaoise though, cut that back to five on the stroke of half time with a point from play. Half Time: The Harps 1-06 V 0-04 Portlaoise.
The second half wasn’t even a minute old when Sean Bourke fired over a point from play. Portlaoise responded though with a point from play also. In the 38th minute, Portlaoise were reduced to fourteen men when No.8 Joe Phelan was red-carded for a wild pull. The Harps added another point from play when Shane Donoghue made a long run across the field to collect a sideline cut from Sean Bourke, Donoghue returned the ball to Bourke who cracked over a lovely point. Portlaoise settled after being reduced to fourteen and mounted a series of charges on the Harps goal. Kevin Galvin though was brilliant in denying Portlaoise, not once, but twice in the space of two minutes. Portlaoise finally got another score when they converted a free after a fruitless spell dominating the play.
The Harps began to make use of the extra man and this payed off in setting up attacks. Shane Donoghue grabbed a fine point from play and this was followed up minutes later with a goal from Sean Bourke. The Harps were firmly in the driving seat with a nine point lead with forty-seven minutes gone. A five minute spell saw both sides exchange points. A Portlaoise pointed free was followed up by a point from play by Brian Dunne who began to drift back out the field seeking ball. Portlaoise replied with another pointed free before Brian Dunne reproduced his earlier point once more.
Portlaoise to their credit, never dropped their heads and kept pushing for scores. Over the following ten minutes Portlaoise got three points, two of which were from placed ball. With full time getting closer, Portlaoise tried for a goal but Shane Phelan made a brilliant hook to deny Portlaoise a sure goal, but with time just about up it was too little too late for the Portlaoise men. The last shout of the game came from John Boggy Brophy who pointed from play right on the stroke of full time. Full Time: The Harps 2-12 V 0-11 Portlaoise. The Harps are now through to the Senior Hurling Championship Quarter Finals – opposition unknown as of yet, while Portlaoise will face Borris-Kilcotton in a relegation play-off game.
The Harps: Kevin Galvin; Shane Phelan, Packie Flynn, John Prior; Conor Dunne, Ross Young, Barry Dunne, Gavin Dunne; Ronan Delahunty, Sean Bourke, Pat Walshe, Shane Donoghue; Eoin Clancy; John Brophy, Brian Dunne. Subs: Tadgh O’Sullivan for Eoin Clancy (57mins).
Referee: Pat Moran.