Portlaoise hosted Emo Celtic in Rossleighan Park in this U-12 clash. Despite a night of heavy rain, the pitch conditions were excellent.
Both teams boasted good records going into the game with only one league defeat each to their names. Portlaoise started the strongest with an early goal from striker Tobi Olaoye. Cillian Friel rode three tackles before setting up Olaoye to finish confidently down the side of the ‘keeper from just inside the box.
Emo hit back with a very good counter attack after fifteen minutes with their striker finishing expertly to the top corner. Portlaoise then had a goal disallowed before retaking the lead just before the half with a cracking strike from the right side of the box by Brian Brennan to double his tally for the season and giving Portlaoise a half-time lead.
Emo came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half and soon saw their deficit turn into a lead with two quick goals in succession. They weren’t the cleanest of strikes but they showed Emo’s excellent fighting spirit and their strength in the tackle. Portlaoise will be very disappointed with their sloppiness in conceding these goals.
Emo stayed on top for fifteen minutes of the half before the home team finally got to grips with Emo’s physicality and got stuck in themselves. They levelled the game when some good build up play found Robbie Farrell on the edge of the box. He turned his man before striking the ball left footed to the far bottom corner. The Emo ‘keeper was unlucky not to save it having gotten his fingertips to the ball but the game was now level again at 3-3. Portlaoise will rue not making more of the good positions they found themselves in when a combination of good defending and a poor final ball saw a lot of their attacks fizzle out. Portlaoise keeper Emmanuel Famokuna made some excellent saves during the game to keep them in it at vital times. Anto Brennan and Evan Gavin were very good in the Portlaoise defence. Conor O’Boyle, Martin McDonagh and Paddy Young did very well off the bench. Emo deserve great credit for a very solid team performance having played the sixty minutes with only ten players. On reflection a draw was probably the fairest result.