This year Portlaoise Ladies hockey team made the transition into Division 1 of the Southeast League. In their opener they faced off against Carlow in Loretto Kilkenny and they made a solid start to the campaign.
Carlow started strong, pressurising the Portlaoise defence early in the game and for the opening minutes of the first half Carlow appeared the stronger side. Portlaoise on the other hand were slow to start and their initial attacking play was erratic, allowing Carlow to make some easy interceptions.
Portlaoise settled after 10 minutes and began to build attacking play more strategically, opening up the Carlow midfield. As the first half progressed, Portlaoise really began to dominate. The midfield combination of Susan Fingleton and Eimear Dunne worked the ball confidently up the right side of the pitch creating multiple attacking opportunities.
The Portlaoise back-line also put in a stellar performance in the first half with Sandra Knowles, Kellie O’Sullivan, Marian Boyle and Karen Fingleton confidently neutralising any attacking attempt by Carlow before it became a threat on goal. In spite of their superior first half performance and multiple shots on goal, Portlaoise did not succeed in capitalising on these opportunities and failed to establish a lead before half time.
In the second half, Portlaoise clearly began to tire and with looser defensive marking and slower attacking ball, Carlow became more of a threat. However, goal keeper Hanna Heffernan, a new recruit to the Portlaoise squad, was more than capable of holding her own preventing several scoring opportunities from Carlow.
As the second half progressed the attacking play was much more evenly distributed. Portlaoise managed to build some solid attacking play and regularly challenged the Carlow defence. And Carlow made some breaking runs and on several occasions looked close to scoring. However, neither side succeeded and as the final whistle blew the scores were all tied at 0-0.