Sheedy slams ref for Flynn dismissal
Portlaoise 2-11 Moorefield 0-14
Leinster club SFC
Moorefield manager Jack Sheedy fumed at referee Derek Fahy after this highly entertaining fixture against Portlaoise at O'Moore Park.
The Kildare champions were pressing hard in the closing stages and were just two points adrift, having cut the deficit from seven points at one stage earlier in the second half, when influential midfielder Daryl Flynn picked up a second yellow card in the 56th minute.
The dismissal of the Kildare midfielder pin-pricked the momentum Moorefield had been building up throughout the second half and gave the home side a much more comfortable landing than they might have been expecting as the gap closed.
Fahy was verbally challenged afterwards by one Moorefield player and a member of the back-room team as he made his way off the field in the company of local stewards.
Sheedy, the former Dublin player of the 1990s, acknowledged that Portlaoise had been "worthy winners" but questioned the validity of Flynn's departure.
"I thought we were going forward, we were being industrious in our play. I can't understand the sending-off, I thought Derek Fahy made a lot of very poor calls today in his interpretation of the rules. That's just my opinion. It's not to take away from Portlaoise," said Sheedy.
"He booked Daryl for the second offence and straight after that Craig Rogers committed what I felt was a worse offence, and he didn't even look at his pocket.
"That's where the little bit of grievance came into it. You would think a man of that stature in the middle of the field would have had a better game and he didn't."
Sheedy's views weren't endorsed by his opposite number John Mulligan, who pointed to the Kildare side's superior second-half free count.
"They got way more frees than us in the second half. The stats are there. I rest my case. I can't say any more," said Mulligan.
There was no doubting Portlaoise's validity as winners, however. Goals win games and in that sense the reigning Leinster champions were very clinical.
They powered into the lead early on (0-5 to 0-1), playing some impressive football, with Craig Rogers particularly prominent, firing over two of those five points.
There was a spring in Rogers' step throughout this game and with Brian McCormack reeling off some pinpoint passes, the home side had great fluency.
Moorefield got a foothold briefly, and clawed their way back to a one-point deficit by the end of the first quarter, 0-5 to 0-4.
But the fluency in Portlaoise's play was illustrated by the 16th-minute move that led to their opening goal, Zac Tuohy taking down one of those McCormack passes and holding up possession until the time was right to offload to Barry Fitzgerald.
The finish matched the impressive build-up.
Tuohy has been instrumental in getting Portlaoise this far, but he returns to Australia to an AFL rookie contract with Carlton on Thursday next and his loss will be keenly felt.
He scored one of the points of the match on 22 minutes when he turned former Kildare full-back Kevin O'Neill and left him trailing as he cut in from the sideline to punch a point and establish a 1-8 to 0-4 lead.
Moorefield looked in real trouble at that point, but switching Ger Naughton and O'Neill stabilised their defence, and Ronan Sweeney gradually got the upper hand on Hugh Coughlan, the former All-Ireland club winner with St Vincent's, at centre-forward.
Naughton took a Rogers shot off the line four minutes from the interval and goalkeeper Tom Corley got down to block Paul Cahillane twice from close range in the same passage of play.
Ciaran Kelly also made a big contribution with four points from play and a range of decent passes; he's a player that Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney may be scrutinising much more closely in the months ahead.
Kelly released Sweeney for the opening point of the second half and the deficit closed to just four points, 1-8 to 0-7.
But Moorefield were hit with a killer blow when a perfectly delivered Tuohy free from near the stand sideline, disputed by an enraged Moorefield crowd who had a clear view of the incident, found Rogers behind a stranded defence. His finish past Corley had the mark of a man on form.
Moorefield didn't wilt and put their name on the next five points between the 38th and 44th minutes, to close the gap between the sides to two points again, 2-8 to 0-12.
Two of those points came from Kelly in quick succession as Portlaoise appeared to panic in the face of the onslaught.
But they were reassured with a Barry Fitzgerald point and were able to keep Moorefield at arm's length from there, helped by Flynn's red card.
Fittingly, it was Rogers who posted the game's last score on 57 minutes, capping a fine day for him, which didn't go unnoticed by his manager Mulligan.
"Today was a big day for him because up to now, while he has been playing okay for us, he hasn't been shining and today we saw a bit of the old Craig Rogers. We were delighted -- he revels in this competition."
Scorers -- Portlaoise: C Rogers 1-3, B Fitzgerald 1-1, P Cahillane 0-4 (0-3f), B McCormack 0-2, Z Tuohy 0-1. Moorefield: C Kelly 0-4, P Murray (0-1f), R Sweeney (0-1f) 0-3 each, Keith Duane, D Whyte, P Woulfe, K Murnaghan 0-1 each.
Portlaoise -- M Nolan; E Bland, C Healy, B Mulligan; K Lillis, H Coughlan, C Boyle; A Kelly, B McCormack; B Glynn, T Fitzgerald, C Rogers; P Cahillane, Z Tuohy, B Fitzgerald. Subs: K Fitzpatrick for Glynn (51), C Byrne for T Fitzgerald (56).
Moorefield -- T Corley; L Callaghan, K O'Neill, I Lonergan; K Murnaghan, G Naughton, Kenny Duane; D Flynn, D Whyte; F Hannify, R Sweeney, C Kelly; P Murray, J Phillips, Keith Duane. Subs: P Woulfe for Hannify (36), L Keane for Kenny Duane (40), P O'Flynn for Lonergan (42), N Hurley-Lynch for Keith Duane (48), C Corrigan for Phillips (62).
Ref -- D Fahy (Longford).