The Harps senior hurlers exited the SHC for 2016 on Tuesday evening when they lost out to Portlaoise by two points. Just like the drawn game, there was very little to separate the sides but unfortunately for our lads it was Portlaoise who had their noses in front at the final whistle.
Played under lights in O Moore Park, again it was Portlaoise who got off to the brighter start, opening up a three point lead with five minutes played. Two points from play by John Brophy in as many minutes ensured The Harps stayed in touch before another pointed Portlaoise free. The Harps then began to show what they are capable of as Lanigan pointed from a placed ball and Kieran Freeman hit a brace of points from play. Points continued to be traded by both teams as fussy refereeing began to cost The Harps dearly. Brian Dunne flashed over two quick fire points from play but frees were now keeping Portlaoise in the game as the deadly accurate Aaron Dunphy wasn’t missing anything. A Portlaoise free was sandwiched in between two good scores from play by Lanigan and Saunders in the run up to half time to leave The Harps ahead by the minimum at the break on a score line of The Harps 0-10 Portlaoise 0-9.
It was a case of deja-vu in the second half as The Harps continued to work good scores from play only for indiscipline and some very harsh calls to undo the good work. Eoin Clancy and Lanigan scores were cancelled out by another two Portlaoise free’s before John Brophy restored a two point lead with an excellent score. Three on the trot for Portlaoise (0-2 f) gave them the lead ten minutes into the second half only for that man John Brophy to hit a brace from play to restore a slender lead for The Harps. With the second half heading for the final ten minutes, Portlaoise levelled the contest with a good point from play. When Eoin Clancy was hauled down inside the square, a penalty was awarded and the question in the stand was whether to go for goal or take the point. Credit to Michael Lanigan who had the courage to go for the jugular only to see his rasping shot come back off the post. Both sides swapped points as Lanigan converted a 65’ to level the game once more but alas this was to be The Harps final score. Portlaoise had the bit between their teeth now and hit two points to break The Harps players hearts as the final whistle sounded and left the scoreline at The Harps 0-16 Portlaoise 0-18.
This was a cruel way for our seniors to exit the championship but their efforts could not be faulted on the night. All focus now turns to the relegation play-off with Abbeyleix and once again supporters are urged to turn up in force for this vital game.