Portlaoise Panthers 1 played host to Athy 2 on Saturday night in what was a one-sided affair from start to finish.
This was the Panthers first outing in the Midland League this season and came up against new side Athy 1 who were quickly shown to be out of their depth.
Portlaoise quickly got off the mark with David Keane scoring from the tip. This was quickly followed up by three baskets inside from Peter Duignan who scored at will when given the ball under the basket. It was clearly evident that there was a gulf in standard and Athy found scores hard to come by with Portlaoise playing a tight man-to-man. A three pointer from Shane O’Neill and a put back basket from Anthony Dunne gave the home side a nineteen point lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was much the same with Portlaoise dominating under the boards with Donal Dunne and Evaldas Bertulis to the fore. Sloppy play by Portlaoise led to turnovers but Athy weren’t able to capitalise on these mistakes.
Portlaoise rotated their squad throughout to keep fresh legs on the floor and seven quick points from Peter O’Sullivan was quickly followed by another two baskets inside from Duignan. In reply Conor Molloy was finding his range as he scored two fine baskets from mid-range. Portlaoise were in total control at the break on a scoreline of 39-09.
The second half turned out to be a formality as Portlaoise continued to add to their lead with Gary Donnelly scoring eight points in a row without reply. Gediminas Simkus entered the game and quickly got his name on the scoresheet with a nice shot from the corner. The final quarter belonged to Shane O’Neill who scored fourteen points hitting four beautiful three pointers from five attempts giving him a game high tally of 19 points.
The game was over early on and really brings into question the difference in standard between the top and bottom of the league and whether it would be better suited to having two divisions.
Portlaoise will not have found much about where they are at this early stage of the season following this game and will face a massive test this weekend against newcomers Legion BC from Mullingar.
Portlaoise Panthers 1 Team: Peter O’Sullivan, Shane O’Neill, Gary Donnelly, Peter Duignan, Gedas Simkus, David Keane, Donal Dunne, Anthony Dunne, Evaldas Bertulis.