Canning free saves Portumna at death
Joe Canning pointed a controversial free in the seventh minute of injury-time to snatch a draw for champions Portumna in a tense affair at Athenry yesterday.
Loughrea were livid that referee Eoin Shaughnessy, after consulting his umpires, awarded the 21-yard free after a player was penalised for lying on the ball as the three-in-a-row holders came with a last-gasp effort to stay in the championship.
Portumna led by 0-5 to 0-1 after 15 minutes and were ahead by 1-7 to 0-4 at the break thanks to Conor O'Hare's goal, finished to the net after a good pass by Niall Hayes after 19 minutes.
And they looked to be cruising to their eighth county final in a row when they opened up a 1-11 to 0-7 lead with nine minutes remaining, but Loughrea produced a storming finish, a goal from a free by Johnny Coen getting them back in the game.
They still trailed by four but in the final minute sub Kenneth Colleran blasted to the net.
Portumna, who have only lost two matches in Galway since 2002, hit back with Eoin Lynch doubling their lead as the game slipped into the first of the designated four minutes of extra-time.
But Johnny Maher and Emmet Mahony hit superb points to level the match in the third minute of stoppage time and 60 seconds later John O'Loughlin looked to have won it when he pointed a sideline from the right wing.
The Loughrea celebrations were short-lived, however, as Portumna had time for one final rally which ended with an effort from Andy Smith from the right wing coming back off the post and, in the ensuing melee, the champions were awarded a free and Canning duly obliged with a point. The game never rose above a tough encounter littered with scuffles as these rivals got stuck into each other throughout.
The replay has been fixed for Saturday (4.0) in Athenry.
Scorers -- Portumna: J Canning 0-7, 0-5f), C O'Hare 1 -0, D Hayes 0-3, E Lynch, N Hayes, K Hayes, A Smith 0-1 each. Loughrea: N Keary 0-4 (0-4f), J Coen 1-1 (1-0f), K Colleran 1-0, J O'Loughlin 0-3 (0-1sl, 0-1f); J Maher, E Mahony, N Shaughnessy (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Portumna -- I Canning; G Heagney, E McEntee, O Canning; P Smith, M Ryan, A O'Donnell; L Smith, E Lynch; A Smith, K Hayes, D Hayes; C O'Hare, J Canning, N Hayes.
Loughrea -- N Murray; B Mahony, D McClearn, E Mahony; P Hoban, N Shaughnessy, V Maher; E Mahony, G Keary; J Coen, J Maher, J Regan; T Hoban, J O'Loughlin, N Keary. Subs: K Colleran for T Hoban (49); B Dooley for N Keary (50).
Ref -- E O'Shaughnessy.