Portlaoise strolled to the U-14 ‘A’ title as they proved much too strong for a St. Joseph’s Barrowhouse side that never got going and ended up on the wrong side of a heavy defeat in the last of the three U-14 finals at O’Moore Park.
It was all one-way traffic as the strong favourites hit the ground running and even without being as clinical as they would have liked Portlaoise still racked up a seven point lead at the interval. Aaron Lynch opened the scoring three minutes in only for his score to be cancelled out by a well-taken Peter Kealy free but that was their first and last score of the half and Portlaoise ran over seven without response to leave them in control.
Joseph’s were given a guilt edged chance to get back in contention right at the end of the first half only for Portlaoise stopper Niall Gleeson to deny Brian Malone with a point-blank save after the forward was put through on goal by a Peter Kealy hand-pass.
That missed chance was crucial because at the start of the second half the Kellyville men did manage to muster a mini-comeback with points from Malone and the tireless James Kelly and had Gleeson not produced that fine save the lead would have been cut to just three points. Instead Portlaoise remained well on top and indeed Kelly’s fine score would prove to be their last of the game as The Town ran riot.
Skipper Dean Bland and John Kavanagh cancelled out that early Joseph’s Barrowhouse brace before the first of four second-half Portlaoise goals killed off the tie with fifteen minutes to go. Lee Davis saw his shot cannon out off the crossbar but it was retrieved well and a few seconds later Jack Reddin gathered and fired a low shot past Eoin Cooney.
Davis wasn’t to be denied a minute later however when he created space on the right hand side before driving past Cooney into the roof of the net and by now the Joseph’s Barrowhouse heads had completely dropped.
Eoin Dunne punched over his third point of the game before The Town rounded off the impressive win with two late goals. Lee Davis bagged his second and substitute Gavin Fitzpatrick put the nail in the Joseph’s Barrowhouse coffin with a neat finish to cap a wonderful campaign for Portlaoise.
SCORERS - Portlaoise: Lee Davis 2-1, Eoin Dunne 0-4, Jack Reddin and Gavin Fitzpatrick 1-0 each, John Kavanagh (fress) and Dean Bland 0-2 each, Aaron Lynch and Theo Kavanagh (free) 0-1 each; St Joseph’s-Barrowhouse: James Kelly, Peter Kealy (free) and Brian Malone 0-1 each.
PORTLAOISE: Niall Gleeson; Arron Coughlan, Patrick Critchley, Killian Brosnan; Bryan Naughton, Aaron Bergin, Joe Geaney; Theo Kavanagh, Dylan Feane; John Kavanagh, Dean Bland, Eoin Dunne; Aaron Lynch, Lee Davis, Jack Reddin. Subs Used: Gavin Fitzpatrick, Ronan O’Sullivan, Cathal O’Sullivan, Lorcan Duff, Rhys Murphy.
ST JOSEPH’S-BARROWHOUSE: Eoin Cooney; Callum Lafford, Lee Hendy, Niall Brennan; Mikey Dempsey, James Kelly, Padraig Whelan; Conor Kelly, Lir McDonald; Oran Maher, Peter Kealy, Dean Brophy; Stephen McDonald, Brian Malone, Bernard Wheatley. Subs Used: James Fitzgerald, David Farrell, Darragh Phelan, Aidan Gleeson.
Referee: Tomas Moore (Ballylinan)