Cahillane cleans up as Portlaoise strut to 33rd title
Portlaoise 3-13 Ballylinan 0-10
Portlaoise picked up their 33rd title yesterday, as they proved far too strong for Ballylinan in O'Moore Park.
Leading by five points at half-time, they were the dominant side in the second-half, holding Ballylinan scoreless from play.
It will go some way to making up for the 2016 decider, in which they lost to a last-second goal against Stradbally, a result which denied them a historic 10th title in a row.
They had clearly learned their lessons from that game, and they made sure Ballylinan were beaten long before the final whistle. A goal in injury-time added some extra gloss for Portlaoise, although it was probably a little harsh on Ballylinan, who had dominated in spells in what was their first final appearance since 1987, and only their second ever.
Laois star Gary Walsh had spearheaded Ballylinan's early dominance, as he fired them ahead with a little under two minutes played. He added another soon after, before Ciaran McEvoy finally opened Portlaoise's account on 10 minutes.
Walsh, from a free, responded for Ballylinan, who were defending really well in the early stages and limiting Portlaoise's opportunities. Scott Lawless eventually found a way through for them, but another Walsh point, his fourth, and one from Alan Farrell put Ballylinan three clear.
They maintained that lead until the 20th minute, when an incisive Portlaoise attack ended with Scott Lawless palming the ball to the net.
Paul Cahillane added two frees before he rifled in their second goal, as they lead 2-6 to 0-7 at half-time.
Gary Walsh briefly got Ballylinan within four after half-time, but Portlaoise's experience came to the fore after that, as they took control of proceedings.
Conor Boyle and Benny Carroll pointed to send them six in front, and they just kept pulling away from there.
Cahillane chipped in with three more points before setting up John Kavanagh for their third goal in injury-time, as Portlaoise cruised to an impressive 12-point win.
Scorers - Portlaoise: P Cahillane 1-6 (4f); S Lawless 1-1; J Kavanagh 1-0; C Boyle 0-2; B McCormack, A Kelly, B Carroll, C McEvoy 0-1 each. Ballylinan: G Walsh 0-7 (5f); A Farrell, C Dunne, A McEvoy 0-1 each.
Portlaoise: G Brody; F Flanagan, K Lillis, D Holland; C Finn, B Mulligan, C Dunphy; A Kelly, C McEvoy; G Dillon, C Boyle, B Carroll; P Cahillane, S Lawless, B McCormack. Subs: D Seale for Dunphy (24), B Smith for Lawless (46), S Smyth for Kelly (56), D Cullen for McEvoy (60), P Downey for Mulligan (60), J Kavanagh for McCormack (60 mins).
Ballylinan: A Walsh; C Leonard, D Leonard, K Byrne; A Farrell, R Ryan, J Redmond; J Farrell, P McEvoy; S Lacey, C Farrell, L Kealy; C Dunne, G Walsh, A McEvoy. Subs: R Donoher for Kealy (ht), C Behan for D Leonard (35, inj), E Kenna for Redmond (50), J Kealy for Lacey (54), C Fennessy for A McEvoy (58), B Kenna for Dunne (60 mins).
Ref - J Flynn (The Rock).