Portlaoise U14's headed to Limerick for a friendly against a UL-Bohemians side that has been going well in their league. In a much-improved performance on the previous week, the visitors turned on the style for an impressive win on a lovely afternoon for rugby in Annacotty.
Before kick-off, both sides observed a minute’s silence in memory of Ashling Murphy. The home side kicked off and had an initial spell of pressure in the Portlaoise half. However, following a turnover, out-half Matt Cunningham kicked deep into the opposition half. Portlaoise secured possession thanks to right-wing Dara Coffey and, following some good phases of play,
a nice side-step by Cunningham saw him sprint clear for the game’s first score. He added the points for a 7-0 lead.
Portlaoise kept up the pressure and, a wrap-around move off a scrum saw wing-forward Donncha Carroll with a lovely off-load to Daniel Whelan who beat a number of players to score in the corner and make it 12-0. Things went from bad to worse for the home side as front-row Conor Deegan took a great ball from the resultant kick-off. He made a great carry before
releasing to Zach McGuinness on the blind-side who powered home for a try that was converted to leave it 19-0.
The forwards were giving a solid platform for the attacking play. Man of the match Cormac Drea was impressive in the second row with a great all-round performance, gathering re-starts, tackling hard, and make some great gains with ball in hand. Alongside him, Shane Foley worked tirelessly while Joey McGuinness and David Alley in the front-row did great work at the rucks along with Conor Deegan.
Midway through the half Cunningham spotted space in behind the opposition defence. His kick was well judged and he was first on hand to force a penalty as the Ul-Bohs full back was penalised for not releasing. Scrum half Kyle Moore started a move from the training ground and a strong carry by inside centre Aaron Fitzpatrick released Donncha Carroll to score in the corner
to make it 24-0.
The home side did get on the scoreboard with a try in the corner but their joy was short lived as Daniel Whelan rounded off some great attacking play by wing Cormac Page and full back Eoghan Kennedy to score his second try and leave in 29-5 at half time.
The second half didn’t bring any change of fortunes for the home side. Captain Eanna Moynihan came to the fore with some strong runs and, taking a ball off the base of a scrum, the No. 8 powered over for a converted try. Shortly after, Portlaoise turned defence into attack. From defending their own line, Cunningham kicked clear. Wing Declan Iguma showed great pace to gather the ball ahead of the full-back. As always, Carroll was on hand in support and a well- timed pass put Cunningham in under the posts for a try. He added the points for 43-5.
Credit to UL-Bohs, they kept working hard and were rewarded for a period of territory and pressure with two trys in quick succession to make it 43-15. However, this only served to spur on Portlaoise.
Paul Byrne, in at scrum half, Bill Rigney operating in the second row, and Fionn Cuddy at full back all came strongly into the game. It was blind side Zack McGuinness who got the scoreboard moving again as he used his pace and power to beat the defence for a converted try.
Shortly after, some great individual skill by wing Cillian Dunne saw him side-step his opposite number and run in under the posts from the halfway line. Out-half Cunningham added the points and then finished off the scoring himself. A scrum on the opposition 10 metre line gave a great platform for attack and, after some quick hands by the back-line, Cunningham beat
the defence to complete his hat-trick. The points were added for a final score of 64-15.
Eoghan Kennedy, Dara Coffey, Daniel Whelan, Aaron Fitzpatrick, Cormac Page, Matt Cunningham, Kyle Moore, Conor Deegan, David Alley, Joey McGuinness, Shane Foley, Cormac Drea, Zack McGuinness, Donncha Carroll, Eanna Moynihan. Replacements: Fionn Cuddy, Paul Byrne, Declan Iguma, Cillian Dunne, Bill Rigney.
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