IT hasn’t been the smoothest of championship campaigns for Portumna – either on or off the field – but the former All-Ireland club hurling champions are menacingly hitting top form at just the right time.
Finishing fifth in a six-team group should have brought an unfamiliar premature end to Portumna’s title hopes, only for the protracted appeals process over their encounter with Turloughmore to eventually break their way.
Not a team to look a gift horse in the mouth, Portumna had already served noticed that their capacity for serving up the kind of swashbuckling displays which has carried them to six county and four All-Ireland titles since 2003 was still there when dismissing Gort in their final group outing.
They weren’t quite as fluent in this preliminary quarter-clash with Castlegar on a heavy Kenny Park surface on Saturday, but the goal scoring capacity of their clinical attack was clearly evident in an encounter which only occasionally reached the anticipated intensity.
Castlegar were the only team to reach the knock-out stages with a 100% record – admittedly from senior B – and their ambitions of causing an upset weren’t without some merit, but their defence, particularly the full-back line, wasn’t sufficiently equipped to deal with Portumna’s goal-scoring prowess.
Two green flags each from the excellent Kevin Hayes and young Jack Canning ultimately carried Portumna to a comfortable eight-point victory despite a final quarter wobble and Joe Canning, surely about to be acclaimed the inter-county hurler of the year, being untypically on the margins of the action.
They still possess the most lethal forward line in the county when on a going day and though Damien Hayes is no longer haring about the place and another veteran Andy Smith has also lost a yard a space, these former Galway players remain formidable operators at this level.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.