MSL U-16 EAST
The new season opened for Portlaoise U-16s with what looked like, on paper, a very difficult away trip to play last seasons’ cup champions Mullingar. Both teams were missing a couple of players through injury and Portlaoise have four new players in the squad. This all contributed to a very scrappy opening ten minutes where both teams struggled to keep the ball. Portlaoise however still looked a threat any time the ball went up to their front two of Tobi Olaoye and Brian Smith.
Portlaoise AFC 9 Mullingar Athletic Tigers
On fourteen minutes great work on the right flank from Jamie Preston, James Wheeler and Brian Smith set up Tobi Olaoye and he made no mistake to put Portlaoise one up. This settled the Portlaoise lads and all of a sudden they were knocking the ball about with confidence and finding more time and space on the ball.
Darragh Kelly won a ball deep in his own half and good interplay from him, Michael Culliton, Jason Horan, Finn Culleton and Brian Smith set Olaoye up to score his second with less than 20 minutes played.
A rare attack from Mullingar followed but Conall Rowney came swiftly off his line and made a great save.
The away sides next attack saw Jamie Preston fouled 10 yards outside the box. Darragh Kelly took a quick free kick, finding Olaoye unmarked in the box and he controlled the ball and finished to the back of the net for his hat-trick.
A game which looked difficult before kick off was now very one sided as Portlaoise were dominant and on the attack constantly. On twenty-five minutes Brian Smith sent Jason Horan clear and he drilled the ball under the keeper and into the corner of the net. The score stayed 4-0 until half time, even though Finn Culliton and Smith both went close.
New signings Gearoid Dempsey and Munashe Karigomba were both introduced at the end of the first half and Karigomba made an impact at the start of the second half. He won a ball deep in the Mullingar half and he, Josh Hogan and Tobi Olaoye combined to set Finn Culleton free, and he made no mistake to make it 5-0.
Kyle Enright was winning his duel with the Mullingar danger man Cleary and was also linking well with his midfield. Gearoid moved from left back to centre and showed he can play either position equally well. This new squad were now playing great football, moving the ball with ease but also working hard for each other. With 17 minutes of the half gone James Wheeler re-entered the game and got his name on the score sheet immediately.
Finn Culleton delivered a great cross and Wheeler's header flew in off the underside of the bar.
Daire McDonald came on and got some valuable minutes in the centre of the park on his road back from injury. He and Josh Hogan controlled the game form the centre of the park. Eight minutes later and Wheeler set up Brian Smith for the goal his hard work on the day thoroughly deserved. With five minutes left Munashe and Olaoye combined and Olaoye's cross was volleyed home by Jason Horan to complete his hat trick and a 9-0 scoreline.
The Portlaoise team and management know there are tougher tests to come this season. However, this new squad will work hard and they look forward to the challenges ahead. They are delighted to have the first win under their belts.
Squad: Conall Rowney, Jamie Preston, Michael Culliton, Darragh Kelly, Kyle Enright, Jason Horan, Josh Hogan, Daire McDonald, James Wheeler, Brian Smith, Tobi Olaoye, Tiernan Cahill, Finn Culleton, Luke Dunne, Gearoid Dempsey, Munashe Karigomba.