Team Coppers got the new season off to a great start at home to Athy on Friday night. The newly formed Demons were no match for this very young Panthers side as they comfortably saw off the Athy challenge. For the first time in many years the Portlaoise men were in the brilliant position of fielding a full panel of home grown players which is a massive positive for the club.
Portlaoise stormed into an early lead courtesy of baskets from Denis Curtin on the break assisted inside by big men Jack and Craig Scully, who between them registered eighteen of the teams’ twenty three first quarter points. The home side also fought hard in defence and pressure at the top from David Glynn prevented Athy from settling into the game early on. Athy eventually got their game going by the end of the quarter with Keogh Jnr scoring his teams first five baskets closing the gap to eight points going into the second quarter.
Team Coppers began the second quarter as they had finished the first with high intensity on defence resulting in easy baskets on the break. The introduction of Evan Maher and Chris Higgins brought this new energy and quickness to the game with both players benefiting from great work under the boards from Craig Scully and Jamie Dooley. But again Portlaoise big man Jack Scully had the last say of the half pushing his personal tally to twenty one points and also giving his side a commanding nineteen point lead at half time.
With Portlaoise well in control going into the third, coach Benny O’Donovan was in the great position to test out the new panel members who were getting their first taste at senior level. These young men took the challenge in their stride with James Dunne, Alan Buckley and Sean O’Neill quickly registering their first scores. Not one of these players looked out of their depth and again pushed out the home side’s lead to thirty two points by the end of the third.
The fourth quarter saw the game tempo slow down with controlled play from Team Coppers with Neil Fennell and Chris Higgins running the offence. The home side kept the pressure on both ends of the floor right up until the end and with space opening up inside on offence, Jack Dooley took full advantage scoring three late baskets to leave the scoreline at the end 93 – 56.
Team Coppers: Jack Scully 21, Craig Scully 8, David Glynn 4, Sean O’Neill 3, Denis Curtin 13, Chris Higgins 8, Evan Maher 9, Alan Buckley 4, James Dunne 12, Jack Dooley 6, Jamie Dooley 5, Neil Fennell. Coach: Benny O’Donovan.