Portlaoise kept their unbeaten run intact at home Saturday night with a great last quarter performance to take the points against a physical Longford outfit. These two teams go head to head again in the National Cup quarter final in less than two weeks time so both sides will learn a lot from this encounter.
The Portlaoise girls were slow to get going in the first quarter with Deirdre Tomlinson the only player to register on the scoreboard finishing well inside. Strong defence from the home side kept the Longford girls to eleven points but still left Portlaoise three points behind going into the second quarter.
The second quarter saw Portlaoise finally find their range from the outside with sisters Catherine and Maeve O’Sullivan along with the impressive Sinead Melia punishing poor marking from the Longford defence. With the away side concentrating on the Portlaoise shooters, Jackie Costello began to find space inside, finishing strongly to the board.
Sharpshooting from Longford’s Eimear Dooley who notched up two three pointers at the end of the half kept her side ahead on a scoreline of 27-26.
The third quarter was another tight affair with both sides scoring 15 points in the ten minute period. The physical nature of the away team made it hard for the Portlaoise girls both ends of the floor but with great rebounding from Sharon Melia and Grainne Tomlinson the home side kept the Longford girls within reach.
The last quarter saw Portlaoise up the tempo on the Longford team with some excellent defence from Emer Conroy, Jackie Costello and Sinead Melia keeping the away team to nine points. At the other end of the floor, some brilliant shooting from the O’Sullivan girls and Sharon Melia in the post saw Portlaoise notch up nineteen points in reply to take them nine points clear at the final whistle. The Portlaoise girls have had some close games in the last few weeks ahead of their big cup game which will surely help them and hopefully boost their chances of reaching the cup semi final.
PORTLAOISE: Emer Conroy 2, Maeve O’Sullivan 14, Grainne Tomlinson, Deirdre Tomlinson 8, Jackie Costello 4, Sinead Melia 13, Catherine O’Sullivan 15, Sharon Melia 4.