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Portlaoise made to sweat by Emmet Og

PORTLAOISE are through to another AIB Leinster club football final - but not in the routine manner expected.

Where some had expected their experience to brush aside the semi-final challenge of Emmet Og Killoe, instead we had - in the words of Portlaoise joint-manager Mick Lillis - "the dogfight of all dogfights".

But having trailed twice during the third quarter at O'Moore Park, the home side hung tough to win by 1-11 to 2-5.

"They were coming down here on the back of two hard games whereas we had an easier game in Wicklow so they were more battle-ready than we were," admitted Lillis. "In the end, it was going to be the team that made the fewest mistakes that would win it and we probably did that."

The favourites had dominated the opening quarter only for Emmet Og to be kickstarted by Denis McGoldrick's 17th-minute goal. The latter trailed by the minimum at half-time, only to leak a 37th-minute goal to Brian Smith.

But the Longford champions then capitalised on a line-ball mishit by Cahir Healy soon after, allowing Mark Hughes to intercept and tee up midfielder Simon Kiernan for their second goal.

It might have been a different story if Hughes had converted another goal chance with the sides level after 44 minutes - instead goalkeeper Michael Nolan made a brilliant block.

Veteran goalkeeper Shane Curran has made a bold declaration of All-Ireland intent after St Brigid's completed a Connacht club SFC hat-trick in MacHale Park yesterday.

The 41-year-old netminder reckons the Roscommon kingpins can go all the way after they pressed the accelerator to run out 1-12 to 0-6 winners over Ballaghaderreen of Mayo.

Others in the Kiltoom camp may preach a more cautious message, especially as All-Ireland champions Crossmaglen (barring a Kilcoo ambush) are set to form a semi-final roadblock.

Brigid's led 0-6 to 0-5 at the break but reacted to a "good bollicking" from manager Kevin McStay to hit an unanswered 1-5.