Portlaoise, reduced to 13, are no match for Kilmurry Ibrikane

Duffy had seen fit to send off two Portlaoise players - defender Brian Mulligan after just 30 seconds as well as team captain, Brian McCormack, nine minutes into the second half - and Portlaoise were incensed by his decisions.

"It was a joke," said manager, John Mulligan. "If the man has a conscience, he won't sleep for a long time. If he hasn't a conscience, there won't be a bother on him. We were disappointed at half time, but with the second sending off it was game, set and match to them. I don't want to sound like a bad loser, but some of those decisions were just a joke."

While Portlaoise fumed, Kilmurry became the first Clare club to reach an All Ireland football decider since 1953, and their deserved victory was built on an impressively fast start. By the 15th minute, they were 0-5 to 0-2 in front, and that lead had increased to 0-9 to 0-4 by the interval as Michael O'Dwyer and Ian McInerney piled on the pressure.

Not long after McCormack's dismissal for a second yellow card, Mark McCarthy put Noel Downes through for the game's only goal which killed off any last vestige of Portlaoise resistance.

The other semi-final between Corofin (Galway) and St Gall's (Antrim) was postponed due to bad weather, and is now likely to go ahead on Saturday at Parnell Park.

Elsewhere, Mayo secured the Connacht League title with a 0-12 to 0-9 win over Galway in the decider in Castlebar. Enda Varley scored 0-4 while Ronan McGarrity and Andy Moran added 0-2 apiece as Mayo repeated a recent National League victory over their provincial rivals.

"It's nice to win a trophy at this time of the year but we know this result and the league result will count for absolutely nothing if we meet in the championship," said manager, John O'Mahoney. "There's no psychological edge to this win."

The students of Dublin City University captured the O'Byrne Cup with a dramatic late 1-15 to 0-17 victory over holders Louth at Dowdallshill. Trailing by three points with just eight minutes remaining, DCU put in a strong finish to take the trophy with Shane Roche hitting four answered points.

In hurling, the most eagerly awaited National League fixture of last weekend between Tipperary and Kilkenny was postponed due to heavy snow in Thurles, however, Waterford got their Division One campaign under way with a crushing 4-13 to 0-12 win over Dublin at Walsh Park.

"Just a shocking day, we didn't compete all over the place," said a disconsolate Dublin manager, Anthony Daly, afterwards. What was worse for Dublin was that Waterford were seriously understrength, yet they dominated proceedings from start to finish.

The losers' best performer, All Star Alan McCrabbe, was stretchered off during the second half with a suspected broken leg, however, the injury was later revealed to be nothing more than bad bruising. Kevin Moran, Stephen Molumphy, Gary Hurney and Shane Walsh scored the Waterford goals with Maurice Shanahan adding 0-6.

With the 2009 panel still refusing to play for manager, Justin McCarthy, Limerick fielded a shadow team and were duly beaten by 1-18 to 1-11 by Galway in Kilmallock. Limerick led by a point at the break before they tired and Galway took control.

McCarthy expressed himself pleased with his players' heart and determination, but when questioned about his own position as the dispute with last year's panel remains unresolved, he was in a less communicative mood. "Ah now, now, now, now," he muttered as he walked away.

Cork turned on the power during the second half to see off the challenge of Offaly by 1-22 to 1-11 at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Level at 0-9 apiece at the interval, Cork soon surged clear and Aisake O hAilpin's 63rd minute goal put the issue beyond any doubt.

In Division Two, new Clare manager, Ger "Sparrow" O'Loughlin saw his charges get off to a flying start with a 2-20 to 0-6 victory over Down in Ennis where Mark Flaherty finished with an impressive personal tally of 2-10. Wexford defeated Westmeath by 1-20 to 0-14, Antrim edged out Carlow by 1-11 to 2-7, and the game between Laois and Kildare was postponed.

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