Portlaoise lose out to Tolka in season opener

Portlaoise Panthers National League men’s team got their season off to a bad start on Saturday night at home to Tolka Rovers.

Portlaoise Panthers National League men’s team got their season off to a bad start on Saturday night at home to Tolka Rovers.

After a season away from this level of competition the Panthers side was looking to make a big impression early in the season against another side coming back from a short lay-off from the league in Tolka Rovers.

Portlaoise started the game well with excellently worked scores from Greg Dunne. Tolka then stepped up and played hard defence and were rewarded with scores from Kenny and O’ Byrne. Both teams continued to play hard coming to the end of the first quarter which left it very close.

Portlaoise came out in the second quarter determined to contain Tolka with good defence and scores, but Tolka were extremely organised and answered back with great baskets from Kenny and Caffery.

Portlaoise had to stay fighting until half time and their defence was critical to staying in the contest. Portlaosie also added scores from Rody McEvoy and Kevin O’Donoghue which lifted Portlaoise going in at halftime.

Tolka had reformed after the break and came together in force with great boxing out.

Portlaoise was starting to come under pressure early in the quarter but Panthers new man Stephan Danso slammed home a high flying dunk to give Portlaoise a boost. This should have spurred on the home side but Tolka kept up great defence and now Tolka went on a run and extended out their lead again.

Portlaoise were forced to call a timeout to settle things and try take control back again. New Portlaoise coach Julian O’Keeffe made changes to get Portlaoise going again and it paid off with great work from our very own veteran Greg Dunne.

He stood strong on defence and moved the ball forward for scores from Stephen Danso and Kevin O’Donoghue. Portlaoise battled strong with Tolka to leave a very exciting fourth quarter ahead.

Portlaosie started with good passing on offence but unfortunately could not capitalise on the chances. Tolka turned it up with changes and worked well with the introduction of Caffery hitting six baskets unanswered. Portlaoise were now in the position where all their energy was needed to claw back the six point lead created by Tolka.

Portlaoise came out full steam ahead and began moving the ball well on offence and getting great important scores with Stephan Danson hitting two big 3pointers. The allowed Panthers draw level and brought the game right down to the wire with Portlaoise unlucky to get the home win down the home stretch. Tolka Led for much of the game but the home side can be disappointed not to scrape an important victory in their first game back in the league.

Portlaoise will take some heart in the face that the game remained close throughout and the performance may improve to the level need next weekend in their meeting with Galway Titans next Saturday night.

Club23 Portlaoise Panthers: Greg Dunne, Rody McEvoy, Peter Duignan, Jack Scully, Craig Scully, Peter Duignan, Paul Leigh, Denis Curtin, Stephen O’Keefe, David Keane, Pierce Fagan, Stephen Danso, Craig Scully, Gedas Simkus, Peter O’Sullivan.