Senior Football Championship Relegation Play-Off
A superb display by talisman Michael Donnelly ensured Portlaw retained their Senior Football status with relative comfort at Fraher Field on Saturday evening last, condemning Ardmore to a Relegation Final against Dungarvan. The game was in the melting pot heading into the closing 10 minutes, but a strong finish from the Tannery Town men secured a third win of the season – a second against Ardmore – and they were good value for their win.
The eventual winners opened brightly with two early Shane Power points, with James Kennedy opening Ardmore’s account in the fourth minute. Luke Woods and Kennedy traded 10th and 11th minute points, before Michael Donnelly and Kennedy repeated that feat via frees in the 13th and 14th minutes. James Kennedy converted a free to bring the sides level after 18 before Ardmore goalkeeper handled John Power’s 19th minute shot in the wake of an intricate Portlaw build-up. John Power and Sean Barron demonstrated their free taking acumen at either end in the 21st and 23rd minutes (the latter proving the fifth successive free from a set piece) in a game which was beginning to feel a little like a shoot-out. Kennedy put Ardmore ahead for the first time in the 23rd minute (another free) with the ever reliable Niall Fitzgerald bisecting the Ardmore uprights two minutes later to make it six points apiece. Kennedy and John Gartland sent the all-whites two clear by the 28th minute, only for a brace of Donnelly frees to restore parity on the stroke of half-time. But it was the seasiders who went in a point ahead at the break thanks to James Kennedy’s fourth point from play (0-9 to 0-8).
A tense second half saw the trend of the first half largely replicated in the opening 20 minutes, with Donnelly’s close range goal after 37 minutes ultimately proving critical. Ardmore were reduced to 14 men following Jack Keane’s high challenge on Darren Rockett, and between then and full-time, Portlaw added 0-6 to their tally in comparison to Ardmore’s 0-2.
Donnelly proved inspirational when his team needed a steady hand and his fine 50th minute point edged Portlaw into a lead they would not surrender thereafter. Ardmore never gave up the ghost, but they rarely threatened a goal, a score which always looked vital in such a high stakes fixture.
In additional time and with the game settled as a contest, Portlaw’s Christopher Mackey received a straight red card following an altercation with Seamus Prendergast.