Portlaoise U-18 boys team had their first outing in the Midland League on Saturday. Portlaoise have been very unlucky in this age group in recent years, finishing second to Kestrels for three years on the trot.
The lads had put in a good pre season and confidence was high heading into the new season. In their first game’ Portlaoise took on Kildare Gliders, a well organised and fit team.
Portlaoise got off to a good start with Conor Donovan and Andrew Meehan working well inside which resulted in some good baskets for the Laois side. Shane San Augustine was controlling the ball well form the point guard position. Shane Maughan was introduced and he showed his class. He was a constant thorn in Gliders side. Gliders however kept their own score ticking over which some good ball rotation and strong finishing.
The second quarter began and continued much the same as the first quarter. Dan Wolksi and Liam Kinsella were introduced and made an immediate impact. Conor Donovan continued to pull the strings for Portlaoise, time and time again he set up his team mates who all finished strongly.
Portlaoise showed the depth they have in the squad with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tom Healy and Barry Mc Nicholl all coming off the bench and Portlaoise led 25-18 at half time.
In the third quarter, both teams were performing extremely well, with some top quality basketball on show. Shane Maughan and Conor Donovan continued to show why they are now valued members of the the senior set up in Portlaoise but Gliders kept the pressure on Portlaoise with some good basketball. Portlaoise were getting tired and Gliders exposed this however the third quarter ended with Portlaoise still up by 12 points.
The 4th quarter began and Portlaoise let their intensity drop. Within five minutes Gliders had clawed there way back into it and the lead was just five points now. Coach Jack Scully called a time-out to settle his team.
Portlaoise came out and played strong defence and pushed the ball. This resulted in some strong moves and good baskets.
Portlaosie ran out 55-47 winners. This was a good way to start the season.