Last weekend Porarlington hosted Clondalkin in the final of the U-19s North Leinster League and the home side, despite late pressure from the visitors, held out for a well deserved victory and the first piece of silverware of the season for the Laois club.
After a low scoring first-half, the sides were locked at three points apiece but a crucial try after the restart ultimately decided this encounter.
Clondalkin fought to the bitter end and Portarlington needed some excellent last ditch defence to keep the Dublin side at bay and to claim the title.
The game started slowly with both teams enjoying periods of possession and it was Clondalkin with the wind in their backs who got on the scoreboard first after Portarlington were penalised for crossing having turned over a Clondalkin scrum.
After that point, the home side began to dominate in the scrums and they were rewarded with a penalty of their own on the half hour mark which was kicked to bring the sides level.
At half time Portarlington were the happier side knowing that the considerable breeze would be in their favour during the second half.
After the break, Portarlington came out fired up and their intent was turned into points when a well executed lineout ball ‘off the top’ allowed scrum half James Brennan to feed his backs who finally burst through the visitor’s defence with a strong straight line run and the try was converted to give Portarlington a 10-3 lead.
Despite that score, the game never opened up as a series of stoppages for collapsed scrums and referee lectures to both front rows meant chances were few and far between.
The Portarlington pack’s dominance allowed them to keep Clondalkin at arm’s length but in the last ten minutes the visitors, enjoying their best spell of possession and territory of the game, had a real go and only resolute tackling and determination from the home defence kept them out.
The final whistle was greeted with relief and joy by Portarlington and understandable disappointment from Clondalkin.
Although the likes of James Brennan, Ciarán Kavanagh, Alex Whittle, Mikey Boyhan and Owen O Donnell will be particularly proud of their individual performances, it was very much a team effort that earned and maintained the lead for Port’ and captain Cian McKeagney highlighted this as he received the cup on behalf of his team mates.