The Kestrels club played host to the first ever round of the U-20 Midland League competition at the weekend and took the bragging rights with wins overs their two local rivals, Portlaoise Panthers and Tullamore.
Portlaoise’s first game of the day was against the home side and the crowd expected the usual close affair. Unfortunately for Portlaoise this was not the case as Kestrels were superb throughout and ran out convincing winners in the end.
The game started off as all previous encounters between these players had with both sides settling well with the home side taking a slender two point lead at the end of the first quarter. This was to be as close as the game was to get as Kestrels defended well while converting time and again on the break.
Too many turnovers saw Portlaoise playing into the hands of their opposition and allowed them to put the game out of reach early on. Portlaoise heads dropped and Kestrels were determined to finish the game strongly and keep the momentum going into their second game. As for Portlaoise, coach Jack Scully had to rally his troops so that they could get their game together for their second game of the day.
Portlaoise faced Tullamore in the second game and came out determined to finish with the win. They got off to a great start with excellent play from Conor Dunne beyond the arc and Jack Dooley driving hard and finishing well. Panthers had a deserved nine point lead at the break but the comeback was on the cards with Tullamore starting strong from the restart. By the end of the third Tullamore had pulled level and it was all to play for in the last.
The game swung in Portlaoise’s favour when Tullamore’s main man Sebastian Skura was fouled off. Panthers kept their nerve taking advantage from the free throw line and just got over the finish line by three points.
Portlaoise U-20 Team: Conor Dunne, Jack Dooley, Kyle Burke, Dusan Rabat, Evan Maher, Gearoid Ennis, Benny Carroll, Tiernan Dempsey, Alan Buckley, Robbie McGuinness, Mark Bartley, James Dunne. Coach: Jack Scully.