MSL U-15 EAST
Portlaoise AFC 6 Mucklagh 2
Portlaoise Utd welcomed Offaly side Mucklagh to a sunny Rossleighan Park on Saturday morning last in the opening game of the new season.
The sides met in the opening fixture last season, with Portlaioise recording a shaky 5-3 victory in Tullamore. Portlaoise had a few changes from last season, with Aidan Keane returning in goals, newcomer Tadgh Duffin playing his first competitive game and Usman Tarig also starting his first after joining the panel last season.
Portlaoise started well, with Fionn Devoy continuing where he left off last season, full of energy and making darting runs down the left wing. Andrew Goggin and Luke Makem also were impressive early on as Portlaoise dominated play without creating any real chances.
Good work by Finn Delaney set Sean O'Sullivan up early, but last season's leading scorer saw his effort go just wide. Minutes later a sublime pass from Cian Bartley-Bray put O'Sullivan through again, but this time the the whistle went for offside.
However, eight minutes in Portlaoise got their reward, as Delaney again powered up the wing and his crossed was converted by Cameron Clarke. Portlaoise were in full flow now, with Matthew Walsh and Tadgh Duffin powerful in defence when Mucklagh did manage to break through.
However the sides were level on fifteen minutes, when sloppy defending saw Mucklagh equalise through their left winger. Mucklagh grew in confidence and were the better team for the next ten minutes, with Aidan Keane dealing well with some fine long range efforts and Usman Tarig making some vital interceptions.
Portlaoise fought through this patch and scored twice before the break, the first when Andrew Goggin crossed for Calum Leonard to head home, and minutes later Mateusz Kocon finished after another excellent Fionn Devoy cross.
Mucklagh refused to throw in the towel , and started the second half strongly, with Keane again thwarting their best efforts, and Tadgh Duffin and Dave Burke defending well.
Mucklagh got back into the game ten minutes the half with a fine counter-attacking move, however this prove temporary as Portlaoise steeped up a gear now and took control. Andrew Goggin was the provider again for the next goal, feeding Finn Delaney, who opened his account for the season. Minutes later a clever ball from Mateusz Kolan saw Calum Leonard latch on to it, and his cross was finished to the net by John Ging.
Goggin, Kocon and Leonard were causing havoc down the right flank for Portlaoise now, with Delaney also impressive in midfield. In the last ten minutes Leonard set Sean O'Sullivan up for two goals and also grabbed his second before the whistle.
Mucklagh will perhaps feel hard done by the final score as the were well in the game with 25 minutes left before fading away.
Portlaoise had some fine displays, with Aidan Keane in goals having a fine game, while the new central defence partnership of Usman and Tadgh worked well. Fionn Devoy and Calum Leonard also excelled, while Andrew Goggin stole Man of the Match with an outstanding second half. Not only was his defending disciplined, but he provided some superb balls down the line and set up a number of chances with his crosses.