By Brian McDonnell at Dolla
Nenagh Éire Óg 0-16
Portroe stormed to a famous win over Nenagh Éire Óg in a thrilling north semi-final at Dolla on Monday evening.
Portroe trailed Éire Óg 1-11 to 0-16 in 52nd minute, but three late points propelled John Sheedy’s men (coached by Liam Sheedy) into the North final.
Portroe will now make their first appearance in the divisional decider since 2009 when, ironically enough, Port lost to Éire Óg.
Following late wides Éire Óg were left cursing their luck, but on this occasion Portroe were well worth their victory. Michael Creamer, Colm Gleeson and Simon Kelly were all outstanding as were Mark Gennery and John Ryan while generally Portroe appeared to have a better idea of what they were trying to achieve with the ball in hand.Hugh Maloney, Daire Quinn and Seán Geaney caught the eye for Nenagh, but generally Éire Óg failed to perform. Indeed, Éire Óg’s indiscipline in the second half cost them dear - Portroe didn’t score a free in the opening half, but notched 0-7 from placed balls thereafter.
Tommy Heffernan fired Nenagh into an initial lead, but Justin Conroy responded for Portroe. Points from Michael Heffernan and Mark Gennery left the sides locked at 0-2 apiece by the sixth minute before Éire Óg surged ahead thanks to points from Noel Maloney and a Seán Geaney effort in the 13th minute.
A minute later Éire Óg failed to react when John Sheedy took a quick free and found the unmarked John Ryan who buried the game’s only goal - 1-2 to 0-4.
Although playing with the wind Éire Óg opted to employ a two-man full-forward. For long stages the tactic back-fired, but Nenagh did enjoy a sustained period of dominance following John Ryan’s goal with points from Kevin Tucker (two frees), a brilliant Michael Heffernan effort and another Kevin Tucker point from play helping Éire Óg into a 0-8 to 1-2 lead by the 24th minute.
John Ryan managed a response for Portroe, but Éire Óg were hurling reasonably well now and added points through Paul Ryan and Tommy Heffernan. Another John Ryan point following a well-flighted Darren Gleeson free left three between them at the break - Éire Óg 0-10 Portroe 1-4.
After just six minutes of second half action Portroe found themselves back on terms.
During this period Éire Óg scored two points, thanks to Kevin Tucker (free) and Michael Heffernan, but, incredibly they also conceded five - Éire Óg coughed up four frees, which John Sheedy happily converted, and in the 34th minute John Sheedy notched another point from play. With the sides level (0-12 to 1-9) there really was everything to play for, especially with Darren Gleeson’s puck-outs now landing on the Éire Óg 21-yard line. Nenagh re-grouped when Michael Heffernan converted a long-range free, but in the 40th minute Darren Gleeson cracked over a superb long-range free to level it.
A Kevin Tucker free in the 41st minute and a smashing effort six minutes later from Michael Heffernan helped Nenagh into what looked like a significant 0-15 to 1-10 lead. A John Sheedy free closed the gap to a single point once more in the 50th minute before another Kevin Tucker free edged Éire Óg two clear.
Portroe almost engineered a goal in the 53rd minute thanks to a surging Justin Conroy run, but Nenagh ‘keeper Michael McNamara smothered the effort.
It was going to take more than to discourage the Portroe men however and when Darren Gleeson landed another sensational long-range free in the 54th minute you sensed that something special was on the cards.
A minute later they were level (1-13 to 0-16) following a Mark Gennery point which was greeted by roars of approval from the Port faithful. And, the game-clinching score arrived in the 57th minute when Justin Conroy fired a hopeful ball toward veteran Dinny Hogan who was loitering on the edge of the square. Hogan caught the projectile over the head of Richie Flannery in spectacular fashion and fed the effervescent Mark Gennery who belted over a terrific point.
Portroe now had the lead for the first time since John Ryan’s goal in the 14th minute.
And, they were in no mood to surrender that advantage. For the remaining five minutes they tackled ferociously and although Éire Óg did fire two late wides, first by Michael and then Tommy Heffernan, both efforts were made under extreme pressure.
Portroe: Darren Gleeson (0-2, 0-2 frees), Christopher O’Riordan, Noel O’Halloran, Dermot O’Halloran, Michael Creamer, Colm Gleeson, Simon Kelly, Jimmy Creamer, Justin Conroy (0-1), James Ryan, Michael Sheedy, Kevin O’Halloran, Mark Gennery (0-3), John Ryan (1-2), John Sheedy (0-6, 0-5 frees). Subs: (40th) Dinny Hogan for James Ryan, (50th) David Gleeson for Michael Sheedy.
Nenagh Éire Óg: Michael McNamara, Mark Flannery, Richie Flannery, John Brennan, Daire Quinn, Hugh Maloney, Barry Heffernan, Alan Kelly, Seán Geaney (0-1), Michael Heffernan (0-5, 0-1 free), Noel Maloney (0-1), Tommy Heffernan (0-2), Kevin Tucker (0-6, 0-5 frees), Paul Ryan (0-1), Eoghan Slattery. Subs: (28th) David Hickey for Paul Ryan, (37th) Billy Heffernan for Alan Kelly, (48th) John Flannery for Eoghan Slattery.
Referee: Ger Fitzpatrick (Roscrea).