Portarlington 1-11 Castletown 0-10
By Ronan Fagan at Chadwicks Wexford Park
Paddy O’Sullivan slammed home a goal five minutes into added-time to eventually banish Portarlington concerns against determined Wexford champions Castletown in Sunday’s Leinster Club SFC first round contest at Chadwicks Wexford Park.
Castletown had threatened to carve out their first victory in the province since the seventh of their twelve Wexford titles in 1978.
But Portarlington, unfortunate against Kilmacud Crokes in the semi-finals last year, demonstrated real character to get the job done and set up a derby quarter-final against Palatine of Carlow.
Whether or not Portlarlington have nippy corner-forward Jake Foster for that game is in considerable doubt after Foster together with a Portlarlington water-carrier, and Castletown’s Joe Ahern, were red carded arising from a melee after the clinching goal was deposited.
The Castletown goal had a narrow escape in the fourth minute when a length of the field move ended with Colm Murphy’s point-blank effort being deflected over for a point.
While Portarlington extended two points ahead from a Murphy mark on eight minutes, Castletown began to motor as they tied on 0-3 after nineteen minutes through captain Conor Carty (free), Jack Higgins and defender Colin Kennedy, before goalie Darragh Brooks edged them in front from a 22nd minute free.
Although Colm Murphy slotted over an equalising free on 25 minutes, Castletown continued to grow in confidence to stretch into a 0-7 to 0-4 advantage at the break with sublime closing submissions from Brendan Halpin, Liam Coleman and Donnacha Holmes.
While the Wexford champions’ delayed return was greeted by a crescendo of Portarlington boos, the locals went dangerously close with another goaling threat as Liam Coleman unleashed an angled low drive.
The visitors reacted to regain parity on 0-7 apiece after 36 minutes through the Murphy brothers, David and Colm (free), together with goalie Scott Osbourne (‘45).
Another Castletown goaling threat saw Conor Carty denied while a couple of wides added to home frustrations.
Robbie Brooks settled Castletown with a quick double to regain the initiative on 0-9 to 0-7 after 45 minutes.
While it appeared Castletown had weathered the storm, Portarlington refused to yield and edged back in front by 0-10 to 0-9 on 57 minutes as Colm Murphy posted two frees and goalie Osbourne converted another ‘45.
But Robbie Brooks had Castletown right in the mix four minutes into added-time when equalising on 0-10 apiece from a free after over-turning the adventurous Portarlington ‘keeper.
The response was clinical as Rioghan Murphy pointed the midlanders back in front before defender-turned-midfielder Paddy O’Sullivan nailed it when storming through off a turnover to goal in a one-on-one in the fifth minute of injury-time.
Portarlington: Scott Osbourne (0-2 ‘45s); Cathal Bennett, Diarmuid Bennett, Alex Mohan; Paddy O’Sullivan (1-0), Robbie Piggott, Jason Moore; Stuart Mulpeter, Seán Byrne; Adam Ryan (0-1), David Murphy (0-1), Rioghan Murphy (0-1); Jake Foster, Ronan Coffey, Colm Murphy (0-6, 1 mark, 4 frees).
Subs: Darragh Galvin for Foster, temp. (15-20), Galvin for Coffey (47), Seán O’Hagan for Mulpeter (48), Eoin McCann for D. Murphy (57), Jordan Fitzpatrick for Ryan (57).
Castletown: Darragh Brooks (0-1 free); Ross Cody, Danny Gardiner, Joe Ahern; Frank Roche, Colin Kennedy (0-1), Joe Gardiner; Rory Heffernan, Liam Coleman (0-1); Jack Higgins (0-1), Jody O’Shaughnessy, Conor Carty (capt., 0-1 free); Brendan Halpin (0-1), Robbie Brooks (0-3, 2 frees), Donnacha Holmes (0-1).
Subs: Killian Pierce for O’Shaughnessy (49), Gavin McNulty for Halpin (60).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).