A straight forward season opener saw Portarlington prove to strong for a battling Athy side at Lea Road last Sunday in the Hosie Cup Round 1.
Under the watchful eye of new club coach Johan Taylor, the Port men worked hard at the breakdown and made good use of their possession to run in six tries in a game that new club captain James Hyland described as ‘a good start to what we hope will be a solid season.
The opening twenty minutes saw both sides looking to find their stride with few chances to score. Kieran Hyland put the home side ahead after 15 minutes with a well taken penalty as Port began to dominate at scrum time. After that it was hard to see Athy having much success as Port repeatedly broke the gain line with strong running and support play from their tight five yielding plenty of quick ball for scrum half Paul Mannion.
On 25 minutes the excellent Joander Brazon crossed over for the opening try with a powerful run after a good phase of recycled possession. Kieran Hyland converted to make it 10-0 to the home side. Athy missed a kickable penalty and that was the last chance that the visitors had in the opening half.
A sniper like execution in the corner from hooker Colm Dowling in the corner after 38 minutes was followed up by an undefendable line break from Kieran Hyland on the stroke of half time and at the break Port deservedly led by 20-0.
The home side started the second half as they had finished the first with Ross Doyle running in the fourth try after 44 minutes which Hyland brilliantly converted from the touchline. Philip Dowling then joined his brother on the score sheet with a powerful drive to cross over after 47 minutes. Hyland again converted to make the score 34-0.
At this point Port, were turning over every Athy scrum and proving too strong for the visitors at the breakdown and so Taylor took the opportunity to give some game time to the bench. Athy capitalised after an inevitable period of reduced intensity with a well taken score in the corner after 59 minutes. With both teams then emptying their benches the game never rediscovered its spark but there was still time for Clive Wardrop to score under the posts. Hyland duly converted and the game ended 41-5.
Taylor will be particular pleased with the efforts of his front row with Cathal Bannon, Colm Dowling and Alex Mihajilovic overpowering their opposite numbers. Back row players Philip Dowling, Joander Brazon, Mark Petriw and Declan Hennessy showed a huge appetite for work while the centre partnership of club president Padraig Maree and captain James Hyland stretched the visitors midfield.
Next up for Portarlington is a visit to Clondalkin in the Hosie Cup on Sunday and a far more thorough test can be expected from a side who like Port compete in Division 1B of the Leinster League.