Arriving in Rossleighan Park without a point from their opening three league games, Gallen United turned the form-book on its head with a very impressive win over hosts Portlaoise AFC on Saturday afternoon.
CCFL U-18 DIVISION
The visiting Offaly men were full value for the three points and they made the journey home on the back of an excellent team display to record their first win of the season.
In the early stages Gallen looked very bright but given their position at the foot of the table it seemed only a matter of time before Portlaoise asserted themselves on proceedings. Indeed, it was the hosts who had the best chance early on when Dan Delaney turned on a quick Sean Mulhall throw-in in the 20th minute only to see his sweetly struck snap-shot cannon back of the post with Gallen keeper Kevin Nugent well beaten.
That reprieve bolstered Gallen and after twenty minutes of pressure they finally broke the deadlock with the last kick of the first half. Andy Wynne capitalised on a less than convincing piece of Portlaoise defending to whip in an inviting cross and James Brazil pounced to bundle a real poacher’s goal past keeper Darren Territ to give United the lead.
Portlaoise responded to a lacklustre first half by introducing Conor O’Sullivan and Chris Carroll at the break, and although O’Sullivan impressed with a fine second-half performance, the rest of his teammates failed to follow his example. After weathering a brief Portlaoise response, Gallen doubled their lead ten minutes after the restart and from that point on the outcome was never really in doubt. A neat ball up field was flicked on by the persistent Jamie Brazil and Andy Wynne got their just ahead of the Portlaoise defenders to poke a low shot home from close range.
Trailing by two with just over half an hour to go, Portlaoise seemed to give up the ghost for a few minutes after Wynne’s strike but the hosts did improve slightly after that brief dejection and they did manage to create a couple of half chances to ask questions of the Gallen defence. Conor O’Sullivan headed a James Henderson corner narrowly over the bar but their hopes of getting something from this tie died when another sub, Dillon Cleary this time, spurned their best chance of a comeback with five minutes left.
Cleary wriggled his way past two defenders with some neat footwork and suddenly he found himself clean through on goal with only the keeper to beat. He elected to go high and although his close range shot went past Kevin Nugent it crashed back out off the crossbar and that was that as far as Portlaoise were concerned.
To rub salt in the wound, United finished the second half in exactly the same manner as the first; with a goal. Rory Finnegan broke free but looked to be going nowhere until he was clumsily hauled to the turf by Cathal O’Connor and Finnegan dusted himself off to step up and confidently dispatch the resulting spot kick into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Portlaoise will have to put this down as a bad day at the office. They were best served by sweeper Callum Flannery and Conor O’Sullivan, while even in a fine team performance, full back Sean Buckley and midfielders David Kelly and Wayne Dunican were excellent throughout for Gallen Utd.
PORTLAOISE: Darren Territt, Mark Preston, Sean Mulhall (Dillon Cleary 58), Willie Carroll (Conor O’Sullivan ’45), Callum Flannery, Cathal O’Connor, James Henderson, Mark Dunne, Dan Delaney, Eddie Carroll (David O’Halloran ’67), Paul Talbot (Chris Carroll ’45).
GALLEN: Kevin Nugent, Aaron Healy, Sean Buckley, Stephen O’Rourke, Rob Robinson, Wayne Dunican, Andy Wynne, David Kelly, Jamie Brazil, Rory Finnegan, Charlie Brazil (Eddie Kenna ’87).