Excellent Ports deny Lamhs top-four finish

ACFL Division One

Portglenone 0-19-2-09 Lamh Dhearg

By Kevin Herron at O’Cahan Park

Portglenone completed a league double over Lamh Dhearg and ensured the Hannahstown men would miss out on a top four finish with a 0-19-2-09 win at O’Cahan Park this evening.

The visitors knew that victory would secure their first finish amongst the elite since 2015 with the incentive of being a seeded quarter-finalist in next seasons Championship – however Portglenone didn’t read the pre-match script and began the game impressively.

Conall Delargy curled over his sides first point within the first two minutes and the Ports were difficult to comtain in the early stages – controlling the game and forcing Lamh Dhearg onto the back foot.

Indeed Portglenone should have forced the opening goal of the game – only for John Finucane to divert Kieron McKenna’s shot over the bar. Corner-forward Ronan Kelly added a brace of points in the aftermath as the hosts climbed into a 0-04 to 0-00 lead.

On the visitors rare ventures upfield Paddy Cunningham’s shot was too short to trouble Ryan O’Neill in the Ports goal and Kevin Quinn shot off target.

Cunningham would open his sides account for the evening with a converted free and followed it up with a sensational point from play to half the deficit.

Gerard McAleese and Cunningham (free) traded scores before the opening goal of the game arrived on the 17th minute.

Terry McCrudden claimed the 50-50 ball and headed towards the goal, a series of hand-passes between the full-forward and Marc Jordan saw McCrudden go through one-on-one and he made no mistake – rifling past Ryan O’Neill to edge his side 1-03-0-05 ahead.

Conall Delargy levelled the game from a converted free though Paddy Cunningham instantly restored his sides slender advantage.

A third point from Delargy had the sides level once again and late in the half the hosts hit the front through successive points from McKenna and McAleese to claim a 0-09-1-04 lead at the interval.

Like the opening half, Portglenone began the second period on the front foot and increased their lead through converted frees from Conall Delargy and Ronan Kelly.

Kevin Quinn split the posts in response but impressive corner-back Ryan Convery hoisted the ball over the bar and claimed a point that his performance had more than merited.

A converted Terry McCrudden free closed the gap to three-points again; approaching the midway point in the second half – though back to back scores from Kieron McKenna and Delargy (free) gave the hosts a 0-14-1-06 lead with little over ten minutes remaining.

An excellent solo run from Ben Rice yielded the Lamhs third score of the half and Paddy Cunningham followed that up with his third converted free of the evening.

Patrick Kelly saw his shot curl inside the large post for the point to stretch his sides lead to four but with eight minutes remaining Lamh Dhearg captain Declan Lynch gave his side renewed hope.

Lynch profited on a lapse of concentration in the home defence and tucked his low shot beyond the reach of O’Neill to make it 0-15-2-08.

The sides traded converted frees through Delargy and Cunningham with the game firmly in the balance going down the home straight.

However, Portglenone managed out the remaining minutes of time and added on three unanswered points to see them over the line.

Conall Delargy kicked his fifth converted free of the evening, in between Delargy’s free; Patrick Kelly added two further points – the second from the 45’ after John Finucane was forced to frantically scramble the ball behind with his kick blocked down by substitute Ryan McGuigan.

The Ports ran out deserved winners to complete a league double over the Lamhs and ensure that the Hannahstown men would join them outside of the top-four standings in the top half of the table.

Portglenone: R O’Neill, R Convery (0-01), S Delargy, J Convery, C Tierney, D McAleese, R Delargy, M Donnolly, F O’Kane, C Delargy (0-07, 0-05f), N Delargy, K McKenna (0-03), R Kelly (0-03, 0-01f), P Kelly (0-03, 0-01 45’), G McAleese (0-02). Subs: R McGuigan for N Delargy (50 mins); M Kelly for K McKenna (54 mins), S Kelly for M Donnolly (61 mins).

Lamh Dhearg: J Finucane, R Diamond, P Mervyn, P Larkin, M McGarry, D Lynch (1-00), B Rice (0-01), P Fitzsimons, D Smyth, O McKeown, K Quinn (0-01), D Bellew, P Cunningham (0-06, 0-04f), T McCrudden (1-01, 0-01f), M Jordan. Subs: M Herron for P Larkin (35 mins), C Hannon for D Smyth (35 mins), J Summersgill for D Bellew (39 mins).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls).

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