Portumna 1-19 Pádraig Pearses 2-11
Report by Darren Kelly, Connacht Tribune
PORTUMNA are just one win away from securing their senior A hurling status for 2023 after this five-point win over Padraig Pearses last Saturday secured their third B win in as many outings.
Declan McLoughlin’s 26th minute goal coupled with an organised defence led by Jack Canning helped Jimmy Heverin’s team build a 1-9 to 0-3 first half advantage, even if they had to repel a Pearses onslaught after the break.
Dean Reilly and an Emmet Ward free gave Anthony Kenny’s men a glimmer of hope, but they never managed to get closer than four points and are now under pressure to ensure their survival.
Portumna started brightly against the wind, with Joe Canning and McLoughlin getting two points inside three minutes before Ward got Pearses off the mark with a seventh minute free.
But already the set-up of the south-east Galway side showed as Andy Smith stepped back to provide cover for Portumna’s defence as they regularly over-turned possession, sending play back the other end.
In attack, Portumna were threatening as Joe Canning set up Sean Brien on 10 minutes but Fearghal Flannery was equal to the task. However, they did stretch their advantage as two placed balls from Canning and McLoughlin left it 0-5 to 0-1 on 17 minutes.
It was a frustrating start for the Gurteen/Ballymacward team, who lost Ronan Bellew through injury, but his replacement, Colm Raftery, converted their second score from the left. Martin Dolphin provided Ronan O’Meara with his first point before a Ward free re-duced the deficit to 0-6 to 0-3 on 26 minutes.
The winning of this game was ultimately decided in the first half. McLoughlin sent the ball towards Neil Connelly on 26 minutes, and followed through to take back possession and rat- tled the net for a six-point lead. O’Meara and two Joe Canning placed balls had nine between them at the break.
It was looking ominous for Pearses on the restart as Jack Canning split the posts within eight seconds, but the men in black replied through Reilly, Enda Cunniffe and Ward by the 34th minute bringing the deficit back to seven.
However, they needed more as Joe Canning, O’Meara and Connelly tallied against an Oisin Flannery Pearses point.
A breakthrough arrived for the north east Galway side on 40 minutes when Reilly took Cunniffe’s delivery, following a deflection of Diarmuid Fahey, to strike Pearses’ first goal, and another Ward placed ball left five between them.
But Portumna responded with the next three points from Conneely and Joe Canning (2). Conor Fahey and McLoughlin traded white flags before Jimmy Gelston and Ward reduced Pearses’ deficit to 1-17 to 1-11 on 56 minutes.
McLoughlin restored a seven-point Portumna advantage, but Ward did get Pearses’ goal with a 61st minute free. However, Por-tumna had the final say as O’Meara registered 60 seconds later. They’re two points clear and one more result should be enough for promotion. It’s a tall order now for Pearses but two wins against Liam Mellows and Ardrahan should gain qualification.
Portumna: K Heverin; C Burke, C O’Hare, C Goode; O Treacy, M Dolphin, Jack Canning (0-1); M Tuohy, A Smith; N Connelly (0-2), R O’Meara (0-4), Joe Canning (0-8, seven frees, one ’65); A Fogarty, D McLoughlin (1-4), S Brien. Subs: J Hogan for Brien (44mins); Brien for Jack Canning (58mins).
Pádraig Pearses: F Flannery; M Hennelly, T Kenny, R Carr; J Barrett, O Flannery (0-1), T McDonagh; E Cunniffe (0-1), T Flannery; G Lally, R Bellew, D Fahey; C Fahey (0-1), E Ward (1-5, all frees), D Reilly (1-1). Subs: C Raftery (0-1) for Bellew (inj, 8mins); J Gelston (0-1) for D Fahey (42mins); L Mitchell for Lally (47 mins).
Referee: J McDonagh.