Portlaoise U-15 rugby team contested the North Midlands Area League final against North Kildare in Athy on Monday last.
After having a mixed year with a lot of restructuring to the panel, Portlaoise got back to winning ways in the later part of the season with good wins over some visiting sides and then a good win over Naas in the semi-final.
Despite the fact that this Portlaoise team had won this final at both U-13 and U-14 level they would have been classed as the underdogs as North Kildare came with very high expectations of a win.
The match couldn’t have got off to worse start for the Portlaoise side as North Kildare got a breakaway try after two minutes. Portlaoise put in a great effort and got to the opposition line only to get caught again with a second try taken from an intercepted pass from their own line.
Portlaoise were now down by 10 points and needed to show strong spirit, a fine run from Oisin Bennett who gave out the ball to Aaron Bates to finish the move with a fine try to narrow the gap before half time.
North Kildare came out with all guns blazing in the second half and crashed over for a try, but again missed the conversion.
The Portlaoise management made some critical changes to the side and played a different game from then on. The Portlaoise side started to dominate up front and restricted the amount of ball the opposition got, it wasn’t long before Oisin Bennett got a try close to the posts and then added the conversion to close the margin to three points.
With Portlaoise now in the driving seat Joe McCormack broke from halfway to score a great individual try, again Bennett converted leaving Portlaoise in the lead by 19-15.
North Kildare gave away a number of frees in the closing quarter and with five minutes to go the Portlaoise side were awarded a penalty from 40m out. Oisin Bennett had the confidence to kick for the points and scored, bringing the score to 22-19 in favour of the Blues.
The Portlaoise defence put in a great try saving tackle in the closing moments with the pack taking control of the ball and holding out for a brilliant win.
Michael Doran was presented with the North Midlands Cup along with the team being presented with their medals. This was a great team performance which was well deserved from an excellent panel of players
On behalf of Portlaoise Rugby Club we would like to express our gratitude and sincere thanks to the panel of players for their commitment throughout the season and the manner in which they represented the club.
We also complement the management and coaches for their effort and commitment to the team and the club. This win was a great reward at the end of a hard season for all involved. We hope all involved enjoy the break and hope to see you all next season.
Team: Michael Doran, Oisin Ryan, Luke Smullen, Michael Hyland, Liam Holohan, Chris Cahill, Niall Hearns, Peter Hennessy, Evan Hunt, Dermot Joyce, Adam Poole, Oisin Bergin, Bill O Brien, Gary Considine, Cian Crossan, Aaron Bates, Oisin Bennett, Cody Fitzpatrick. Kyle Byrne, Joe Mc Cormack, Perry Delaney, Cathal McEvoy, Maik Ikpomwen