Every team goes into an encounter with a specific game plan and it was clear that a pillar of Portlaoise’s tactics last Sunday was to negate the influence of Ross Munnelly.
As Arles-Kilcruise’s main threat, Munnelly was double teamed for most of the day with Cahir Healy and Brian Mulligan working together to keep him out of the game.
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It worked to great effect as Munnelly only scored his first point from play in injury-time.
Speaking after the game Portlaoise joint manager Mark Kavanagh remarked how the plan worked to great effect.
“I think Cahir Healy and Brian Mulligan tied up Ross and I actually felt sorry for him at times as every time he got the ball the two of them were all over him like a rash. Ross is a wonderful player and a credit to his club and from our point of view if we contained him, then we were cutting out the main scoring threat and that worked especially in the first half. Then they still seemed to kick it in to him and that was fantastic for us as the two lads had him marked out of any chance of scoring.”
While Portlaoise went in as favourites and came through with relative ease in the end, Kavanagh admitted to having some nervous moments before the game.
“We were very nervous coming into the match as Kilcruise are a great side and a fantastic team and we had fierce battles with them over the last few years and we knew that we had to be on top of our game as there was never going to be much between us. We had to give them the respect they deserve the way the came back this year got to the final and here we were facing them for the third time in four years and I was nervous before the start.”
There had been little talk in the build up to the game from within the Portlaoise camp of the significance of winning six in a row, the joint manager admitted after the game that it was a great achievement.
“The significance of the six in a row is only sinking in now. While it was mentioned around the place we had never spoken about it in preparing the team and only ever looked at the next game in the championship and focussed on that and we just kept on winning.”
Arles Kilcruise had won the toss and elected to play with the breeze and that looked to be the correct decision for them but they were caught with a Brian McCormack goal after eight minutes. Kavanagh said the timing of the goal was crucial
“Bruno’s goal certainly settled us down and we just moved on from there and we were always comfortable and in control. We have put in Bruno at full forward for the last few games and he has worked a treat for us. He is a class player and like Curley Prendergast in the past, every time he gets the ball you sense something is going to happen. He is a fantastic player and a great leader in the dressing room and long may it continue. We should have had another goal before half time when Paul Cahillane got inside and I suppose he could have gone around the goalie but he made two fantastic saves and full credit to him for that.”