Portlaoise AFC Juvenile Club News
Reports from a busy weekend for Portlaoise AFC juvenile teams.
MSL U-13 MAJOR DIVISION
Portlaoise Utd 2-0 Killeigh
An early morning kick off saw Portlaoise Utd host Killeigh at a change of venue on the all-weather astro turf pitch at Portlaoise Leisure Centre with the temperature barely above zero degrees.
Both teams were feeling the cold early on with chances very limited for both for the first fifteen minutes with the exception of a Portlaoise Utd chance just going wide on six minutes, and Killeigh doing the same on fifteen minutes.
Up to this point it had been nip and tuck between both sides but Killeigh settled the better and were the stronger side for the opening period. Killeigh’s football was far from a side at the bottom of the table.
Killeigh had the better chances in the first half and it took great defending from the Utd defence marshaled by Evan Hewitt, who continues to show composure beyond his years on the ball at the back, along with Man Of The Match keeper Conor Brown to keep the Killeigh strikeforce at bay.
Indeed, Barry Fitzpatrick, Ben Dwyer and David Burke had to be alert at all times to keep out a very lively Killeigh attack as they raided forward. David Burke in particular was having an excellent battle with the number seven who was coming in from the right.
Killeigh played well at the back also and kept a very high back line which was catching out the Utd forward runs.
Utd coaches made a few changes to try and change things around a bit to stem the tide of Killeigh possession but Killeigh, who were quite a tall side compared to Utd, continued to cause problems
On 22 minutes Killeigh had a great chance to open the scoring when a great ball in from the right found the strikers head, but it was a fraction too high and allowed the excellent Conor Brown a chance to exert some pressure and collect the ball at the second attempt.
Just two minutes later substitute Ben Doyle slotted a through ball to fellow sub Dan Ubesie who took on the Killeigh defence but his shot was just wide.
Five minutes before the end of the half saw Utds best chance as they began to get more of a foothold in the game. Ben Dwyer and Barry Fitzpatrick linked up well at the back to find Jamie Toman who used his burst of pace to run at the defenders and he did the hard bit, but again just shot wide.
Killeigh had had the more dangerous chances in the first half and had the shooting boots been on for both teams and Conor Brown not been on fire, it could have been 4-1 to the away side, but it wasn’t. It was 0-0 at half time and all to play for in a very competitive game on a superfast surface. A single goal for either side could be enough.
The second half saw a increase in the tempo from Portlaoise Utd and they started to use the surface better for their normal high-speed passing game. A few minutes after the restart, Barry Fitzpatrick made an important interception at the back as Killeigh were still a threat and Cian Rafter had to time the tackles correctly in midfield.
Ben McDonald, who was having an excellent game on the left, won the ball from the Killeigh player trying to play out from the back, and his pass found Jamie Toman who in laid off to Dan Ubesie, and he excellently put it past the keeper; 1-0 to the home side.
That goal put some life into Killeigh too and it could have been 1-1 almost immediately with Conor Brown getting called into action twice in succession to save at the feet of the onrushing attacker and then again from a fine shot on goal.
Every player was having to play their part. Luke Makim and Kanya Tshula slotted in excellently in the middle and the back as required, doing exactly what they needed to do.
On 42 minutes Ben Doyle slotted a lovely first time ball through to Jamie Toman who had done everything right all day except score and unfortunately this shot went marginally wide. The darting runs and excellent link up between Dan, Jamie along with TJ Delaney and Alex Bennett was now causing problems for Killeigh as they were getting stretched and Portlaoise Utd were commanding the second half at this stage.
Cian Bartley Bray had played well at right back in the first half and when Mattie Kocon came on for Cian, he too also had a fine game which saw Mattie trying his luck on goal on 46 minutes with a rasper of a shot from about 25yards out, but the keeper just about held onto it.
From the resulting short kick out, Jamie Toman pressed the defenders, winning the ball and he laid it off to Ben McDonald who capped a fine performance by netting his first goal in two years. It was now 2-0 to the home side and Utd were on top.
Ben Doyle had a left footed shot from the edge of the box go narrowly wide and Evan Hewitt saw a thundering free kick smash off the cross bar but didn’t fall favourably to the Utd attack.
Man of The Match was Conor Brown in goals but this was a good Portlaoise Utd squad performance in the second half in particular to lift the game and continue a good start to the season, as we enter the midway point.
Killeigh’s league position does not reflect the football they have played against Utd in both games this season and no doubt they will pose tough challenges for all they play against this season.
U-14 SFAI CUP
Portlaoise Town hosted a very strong Naas team on a cold but dry Saturday at Rossleighan Park in the last 64 of the SFAI National Cup. Both teams were determined to make an impression from the outset, closing the space on their opponents as quickly as possible.
Jason Horan carved out the first goalscoring opportunity for Portlaoise when he found Aaron Brennan with a neat pass from the right wing. Aaron struck a thunderbolt that flew back off the underside of the bar.
Luke Dunne O'Connor forced the rebound goal bound only to see his effort saved and Brian Smith followed up and calmly picked his spot but the Naas keeper again bravely flung himself in front of the effort. Three minutes later keeper Conall Rowney dived courageously at the feet of the tall Naas striker to secure possession from an excellent through ball.
Naas were now dominant across the middle of the park. The overworked Portlaoise defence conceded two corners in succession. Portlaoise striker Brian Smith did very well to make a good clearance off his own line for the second of these.
On 30 minutes the Naas attacking midfielder had a firm strike well turned aside by Rowney, with the resultant rebound fired just over the bar by the marauding left winger. Portlaoise were living dangerously, the Naas left winger breezed a diagonal shot just wide of the far right post.
Darragh Kelly, Kyle Enright, Josh Hogan and Jamie Preston were constantly clearing their lines against a continuous Naas onslaught. Conall Rowney did well to get a strong punch on a dangerously flighted free from the right wing. Five minutes before half time Naas had their reward when a hasty clearance fell to their diminutive central midfielder who struck a wonderful shot that dipped just under the bar.
Portlaoise commenced the second half with greater purpose in the midfield from David Olubowale, Aaron Brennan and Ben Dempsey, aided by the introduction of Samuel Emmanuel.
Aaron Brennan got on the end of a long clearance and dashed down the right touchline, then found Tiernan Cahill whose powerful cross ricocheted off a central defender and was superbly kept out with the aid of the bar by the visiting netminder. Five minutes later, after sustained Portlaoise pressure, Daryl Ntumba linked with Samuel Emmanuel whose 15 metre effort was deflected onto the bar off a Naas defender.
Within a minute a superbly placed long range free from out on the left by Darragh Kelly went just beyond the reach of Aaron Brennan’s head with the goal gaping.
Josh Hogan cut out a dangerous Naas attack, found Aaron Brennan who hit a fabulous diagonal pass out to the far right wing to Samuel Emmanuel, who dribbled forward before combining with Tiernan Cahill, but his shot from an acute angle hopped just wide of the back post.
Naas began to restore some parity in the middle of the park and their number seven headed a fine cross powerfully over the crossbar. With ten minutes to go Naas doubled their lead when their excellent left winger burst through at pace, drew the keeper and laid the ball into the path of his supporting midfielder who swept the ball into the empty net.
Portlaoise threw everything at Naas in order to pull one goal back. As a consequence, Naas scored their third when the left winger repeated the dose only this time he was provider for his substitute striker.
Portlaoise Town: Conall Rowney, Jamie Preston, Darragh Kelly, Kyle Enright, Josh Hogan, Jason Horan, David Olubowale, Aaron Brennan, Ben Dempsey, Brian Smith, Luke Dunne O Connor, Samuel Emmanuel, Tiernan Cahill, Daryl Ntumba, Michael Culliton.
U-13 SFAI CUP
On Saturday 19th of November on a cold crisp morning in Portlaoise Leisure Centre, Portlaoise came up against local rivals T&S in a pivotal game. At stake was a place in the last 32 of the national cup as well as a place in the regional final.
Portlaoise began strongly and started to dominate proceedings, especially the quartet in midfield of Kieron Whelan, Eoin McGrath, Kieran O'Donnell and Ryan Mitchell.
T&S hardly tested Portlaoise's rearguard where the two centre backs of Lee Smyth and Sean O'Sullivan were excellent as well as the full backs of Mitch Fitzpatrick and Finn Delaney when any problems did arise.
Portlaoise had the most of the chances in the first half through Jay Connell who came very close with two opportunities, as well as Thomas Swords and Kieran O'Donnell, but unfortunately they went into the break on level terms.
As the second half began Portlaoise started the way they finished off the first half by dominating possession, but were nearly one goal down a few minutes later as T&S broke on the counter attack and with their first meaningful chance, they rattled the angle of the post and bar on Hubert Silers' left hand side.
This awakened the Portlaoise team again and they proceeded to further dominate the game and got their just rewards after some fine play, when Thomas Swords applied the finishing touch to a fine passage of play involving a number of the Portlaoise team.
As the game was drawing to a close, Portlaoise were to get that vital second goal ten minutes from time from a corner from which Ryan Mitchell's inch perfect delivery was expertly headed home from Portlaoise's Man of the Match Kieron Whelan. Portlaoise then closed out the game for an unprecedented win which was thoroughly deserved.
A big thank you must go out to the parents and Paul Flynn who again assisted the coaching staff on such a cold morning. A mention too for Callum Leonard who, despite being ill, came off the bench and played his part too.
Another to mention for Colin McEvoy also who, despite suffering a head injury during the week, was down to give his teammates welcome support also.