Last Saturday Portlaoise U-13s headed to Naas to play their last game of the 2013/14 season against Leinster Plate champions Athy.
Portlaoise started the season with high expectations but they were now chasing the last piece of silverware. Athy started the stronger and set their stall out using their large pack to drive at the Portlaoise defence.
Portlaoise stood up to the challenge and 15 minutes in they attacked from inside their own 22 putting the ball quickly through the hands and bringing in winger Bryan Redmond. He ran the length of the pitch to ground the ball under the posts. William Reilly converted to leave the score at Portlaoise 7 Athy 0. Athy hit back and the Portlaoise defense felt the full force of the powerful pack.
Despite a number of enforced changes during the game, Portlaoise stuck to their task, with Athy having to settle for a penalty kick on the stroke of half time to leave the score at the break 7-3 to Portlaoise.
Both teams went at one another in the second half defending aggressively. Portlaoise had adopted a defensive diagonal kicking game using the pace of winger Adam Dunne to exert pressure on the Athy backs and keep them in their own half giving some relief to the Portlaoise defence.
This tactic was to reap its reward and with five minutes to go against the run of play. An Allan Connolly kick was chased by Adam Dunne who outrun the Athy winger only to be tackled without the ball leading to a penalty try under the posts which was duly converted by William Reilly. This score was much to the relief of the Portlaoise coaches and management who now knew victory was close.
Athy to their credit continued to attack with no reward and when the final whistle blew, it was the Laois boys who ran out victors with a score of 14-3 seeing them become North Midlands Area League Champions for 2013/14. Portlaoise Rugby Club would like to pay a special tribute to the community of support that has built up around this squad of players, from the tea and sandwich makers, the transporters who carried them throughout Leinster, the parents, the physio (Mick) and all those throughout the year to support these 12 year olds on their journey in rugby.
Team: Brian Fingleton, Adam Dunne, Alan Connolly ,Brian Dunne, Willliam Reilly(Capt), Paddy Coss ,John Keogh, Eoghan Fitzpatrick, , J Startin, Alex Boating, A Duffin, E Brennan,Donna Hyland, Brandon Nolan, R Laffen, T Reddy,J Radcliffe, R O Rourke, A Maher, L OG Lynch , Ethan Hussey, Sean O Connell.