AIB Leinster Club Senior Football Championship First Round
Portlaoise (Laois) 1-10, Rhode (Offaly) 0-10
Mullinalaghta St Columba’s (Longford) 1-14, Eire Óg (Carlow) 1-7
Rathnew (Wicklow) 2-6, Newtown Blues (Louth) 0-9
The beaten finalists from the last two AIB Leinster Club SFC seasons clashed in Bord na Móna O’Connor Park today, and it was Portlaoise who marched onto the quarter-finals.
Portlaoise were pipped by Ballyboden St Enda’s in 2015, but now are back on the road again and will meet Moorefield of Kildare in the last eight.
They were the better team in the opening half against Rhode, surging into a 1-8 to 0-6 interval lead, with Ciaran McEvoy slotting home the goal in the 23rd minute.
Portlaoise extended their lead to six points early in the second half, but failed to add to their tally until injury time. Meanwhile, Rhode kept chipping away and were left to rue a couple of poor wides. Nevertheless, inspired by Niall McNamee, Rhode did cut the gap to two points with approximately ten minutes remaining.
But they couldn’t cut the gap to the minimum and Gareth Dillion fired over his third point for Portlaoise to ensure they wouldn’t be caught.
Longford champions Mullinalaghta St Columba’s reached last season’s semi-finals and have now set up a clash with St Loman’s (Westmeath) for the second year in a row.
Mullinalaghta dominated the first half and led by 0-8 to 0-1 at the break. Carlow champions, Eire Óg improved after the break and when Darragh O’Brien fired home a goal, they only trailed by three points.
But the home side didn’t panic at Glennon Bros Pearse Park and together with excellent point-taking by the McGivneys – David and James – and a late goal by Gary Rogers, they deservedly progressed to the quarter-finals.
In the other game, former provincial champions, Rathnew of Wicklow, came from behind to oust Newtown Blues of Louth at the Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda.
Rathnew only mustered one point in the opening 30 minutes, after which they trailed by 0-4 to 0-1. They came back into contention with a 33rd minute Mark Doyle goal.
Inspired by Ross Nally, Newtown Blues edged ahead late on, but Rathnew broke through for 1-1 compliments of Mark Doyle to book their place in the quarter-finals against the Dublin champions.
The quarter-finals will take place on Sunday, 12th November, as follows, with the first named team having home advantage:
Rathnew (Wicklow) v St Vincent’s (Dublin)
Portlaoise (Laois) v Moorefield (Kildare)
Mullinalaghta St Columba’s (Longford) v St Loman’s (Westmeath)
Starlights (Wexford) v Simonstown Gaels (Meath)