Portlaoise AFC U-14s drew with Clara.
Portlaoise girls U-14 made the trip to Stanley O'Hara Park on Saturday morning to take on Clara Town.
If history had had its way, it was going to be a long day for the girls and after only two minutes Clara were off to a flyer from close range as Portlaoise struggled with the early pressure. Eight minutes later and Clara were two up after a defensive mis-kick looped the ball in front of the Clara forward who dispatched from 12 yards, a nervy start from the girls who were and are still trying to find their feet as a group.
As the game progressed, Portlaoise always looked dangerous on the break. Sandra Peters, Lateefat Ganiyu and Esther Ubesie using their pace and power to attack the organised Clara defence. Half chances were created by Portlaoise but they found Hannah Cronin in great form in the Clara goals.
Leah Byrne, who scored twice, last week was a constant threat on the left with excellent awareness and fantastic ball control. The game had the potential to explode with goals but both Cronin and Portlaoise’s Mairead Keane grew in confidence as the half time whistle blew up.
The second half exploded into life and two minutes in an excellent ball played through by Chloe Keenan saw Esther Ubesie burst clear with explosive pace and finish into the corner from 12 yards.
Just three minutes later it was Esther Ubesie again who picked up the ball from 40 yards out turned two Clara players and sprinted towards the Clara keeper and once again finished calmly under pressure to make it 2-2.
The game ebbed to and fro and Clara began to step up a gear in search for a winner. Taylor Leavy at left back and Amy Donovan at right back used their experience to thwart the pacey Clara wingers and debutants Eva Cullnane and Ellen Rowney took to the game like a duck to water. They were calm and collected in possession and closed down quickly when not in possession.
Keeva O'Reilly who just turned eleven came on as a sub for the last 20 minutes and gave everybody a glimpse of her potential, reading the game ever so well on the left wing. As the game entered the final 15 minutes Leah Malone and Sophie Scully stood solid, marshalled the troops and controlled the game as Clara began to push forward in search of a winner.
The two holding midfielders of Chloe Keenan and debutant Katie Galvin Farrell were absolutely magnificent. They were the focal point of every counter attack and both girls will prove to be very valuable assets to Portlaoise in the coming season.
A late free kick by Chloe Keenen could have snatched the winner but an entertaining 2-2 draw was just about the right result.
POM: Sophie Scully