Imran Shitta, David Burke, Hubert Siller and Calum Leonard after the Portlaoise v Tullamore U-14 game.
Portlaoise United 4
St Aengus 3
Portlaoise U-10s first league win of the season was yet another exciting game between two well-matched teams.
Portlaoise started the quicker and went 1-0 up with a great goal from Ross Dunne, which flew into the top corner of the net. St Aengus got going midway through the first half and hit back with two goals before half time
At this stage play was going from end-to-end, and Danny Gavin, Rocco Reilly and Holly Murphy were very solid at the back and stuck to their task very well. In the middle of the park Oisin Duffin, Rhys Lawless, Ryan Keane, Charlie Dwyer and Tom Coleman were all playing well, while up front Finn Dawson and Harry Brown were causing St Aengus a lot of problems. At half time St Aengus led 2-1.
Five minutes into the second half St Aengus went 3-1 up and it looked as though they would go on to win the game, but Portlaoise to their credit never gave up trying and finally pulled a goal back with a great finish from Dennis Brown.
This gave Portlaoise renewed confidence, and they were now playing their best football of the match thanks to Ryan Keane, Gary Brennan, and Leah Brennan, who were all playing a big part. Finn Dawson then shot home the equaliser for 3-3 to the delight of the home support.
St Aengus were now under severe pressure with Conor Dunne, Dennis Brown and Rocco Reilly causing all sorts of problems. The pressure paid off when Ross Dunne shot home the winner with three minutes to go.
St Aengus didn't lie down and went on the attack to try and find an equaliser, but great defending from Danny Gavin, Leah Brennan and a good save late on from Tom Coleman saw the game finish 4-3 to Portlaoise.
It was a great result for the team after working very hard over the last few months. It takes two teams to make a great game and St Aengus played a big part in this game. They worked very hard and were competing up to the final whistle which is a great sign in a team. These teams will have plenty of more great games with them over the season.
Killeigh United 0
Portlaoise Town 5
Killeigh played host to the Portlaoise Town U-10 side for Round 6 of the league.
Portlaoise, playing with the elements in the first half, dominated possession and took a well-deserved 3-0 lead into the half time break. Excellent team goals from Jack Cleland, Aaron McCormack and Martin O’Donoghue were reward for the hard work put in by the entire team in the first half.
Killeigh, playing with wind advantage in the second period, came into the game more. The Portlaoise defence, despite losing Glen Johnson to injury early in the second half, coped well with everything the home side threw at them. Peter Emmanuel and Brian Mullins, backed up by goalkeeper Ben Malone, were excellent when called upon to keep the home side out.
The visitors always looked dangerous on the counter attack though and scored twice more before the end of the game. Aaron McCormack bagging the first hat trick of his young career.
This was another excellent team performance with the Portlaoise defence and midfield again very solid and limiting the opposition to just a couple of half chances in the entire game.
A special mention for Max Ryan, Brian Mullins and Martin Donoghue who had their best performances to date.
Portlaoise Town: Aaron McCormack, Alastair Cleland, Aleksander Zajaczkowski, Ben Langford, Ben Malone, Brian Mullins, Cormac Harney, David Valainimis, Glen Johnson, Jack Cleland, Mark O'Connor, Martin Donoghue, Max Ryan, Peter Emmanuel, Sean Powders
On Saturday afternoon Portlaoise Girls U-14s welcomed near neighbours Killeigh to the Leisure Centre. It was always going to be a difficult game considering Killeigh's fine form coming into the game.
The game began with Killeigh on the front foot, pressuring every Portlaoise player and relentless in covering any open space that Portlaoise found themselves in. Portlaoise however, soaked the pressure up with an excellent display of organised defending. Amy Donovan, Katie Galvin Farrell, Sophie Scully and Leah Malone stood up to the challenge tremendously and for all the pressure Mairead Keane was rarely called into action.
It took 25 minutes for the breakthrough to come with an excellent low, long-range shot from 20 yards which found itself to the left of Keane’s goal. Chloe Keenan and Ellen Rowney were magnificent in midfield, tirelessly working with the back four, passing the ball with coolness and precision.
Portlaoise never panicked in possession and on two occasions they showcased their passing prowess by stringing eight to ten passes in a row despite the Killeigh pressure. Sandra Peters again had a solid game in the attacking third but the Portlaoise attackers found it difficult to break the solid Killeigh defence when the opportunities came their way.
Keeva O'Reilly made way for the speedy Esther Ubesie, yet she too couldn’t get up to pace with the Kelligh girls wary of her every move. Roisin Fitspatrick also made an appearance and did a great job on the right wing. Killeigh lead 1-0 at half time.
In the second half, Portlaoise began well and pushed Kelligh back into their half. Lateefat Ganiyu saw more of the ball out on the left as did Eva Cullinan who then slotted into left back for Katie Galvin Farrell.
On 50 minutes the disastrous weather decided to rain on the parade and that was certainly the case for Portlaoise as Kelligh scored two quick-fire goals to put the game to rest, one of the goals taken from 25 yards out which sailed up and over goalkeeper Keane.
With 15 minutes remaining, the rain and cold had gotten the better of both teams who at this stage were perhaps thinking about a night in by the fire. Killeigh grabbed one more before Sandra Peters came agonisingly close for Portlaoise late in the game. It was a brave performance by Portlaoise but Killeigh showed why they have been and will be very difficult to beat this season, as they ran out 4-0 winners. POM: Mairead Keane & Ellen Rowney
Portlaoise Utd 1
Tullamore Utd 1
A bright, dry morning greeted Portlaoise Utd and Tullamore Utd on Saturday. Portlaoise had lost just one league game to date and were hoping for three points to keep in touch with the leaders against bottom placed Tullamore.
Portlaoise started brightly, with Cian Bartley-Bray putting in a tempting cross early on but the Tullamore keeper left his line to take control of it. Scott Coyle put Fionn Devoy through minutes later with a clever ball but unfortunately the ref blew for offside.
Portlaoise had U-13 keeper Kacper Banasik covering for the day, and he was called into action in the tenth minute to clear a through ball. Imran Shitta was again in superb form in the middle of the park for Portlaoise, and himself and Luke Makem linked up to set Scott up for an effort that went just wide.
With Finn Delaney doing trojan work on the right of midfield Portlaoise were in control of the game, and got just reward on twenty minutes when a superb ball from Imran set Fionn through. Fionn kept his composure to slot home for his second goal of his debut season to make it 1-0 to the home team.
Just after that a fine ball from Matthew Walsh set Sean O’Sullivan up but the keeper handled the effort well.
Tullamore had a counter attack just before the break, and with the Portlaoise defence switched off the impressive number six shot just wide, a let off for Portlaoise. Tullamore gained some confidence from this, and Ben Dwyer had to intervene on two occasions to avert danger for Portlaoise. Before the break a nice ball from David Burke set Fionn Devoy up for a fine effort, but the Tullamore keeper again saved well.
Portlaoise continued the second half in the ascendency again, with the midfield quartet of Finn, Imran ,David and Fionn having the upper hand on their counter parts. The Tullamore number six was having a fine game however, and Kacper had to race to the edge of his area to avert danger for Portlaoise.
At the other end Fionn Devoy went close again after latching on to a clever ball from David Burke, while good work afrom John Ging and Fionn resulted in a corner for Portlaoise, and from it Luke Makem went close with an effort. Moments later neat play from Cian, Finn and Scott opened up the Tullamore defence, but the chance went a begging.
Within minutes of this Tullamore countered attacked again, and Kacper pulled off a stunning save to deny Tullamore an equaliser. The let off was temporary however, as poor defending allowed Tullamore in again, and this time they made no mistake. Thomas Swords tried hard up front for Portlaoise in the dying minutes but Tullamore actually finished the game stronger as Portlaoise faded.
On reflection a disappointing result for Portlaoise as they dominated the game without finishing it off and paid the price. While individually they are playing well improvement will be needed as a team, with off the ball movement and support play areas of concern. Credit to Kacper who moved up the ranks for the day and took it in his stride with a composed display.
MSL U-15 EAST DIVISION
Portlaoise AFC were hosted by Clonaslee in dry but chilly conditions on Saturday last. Having received a chastening 2-1 defeat to DDSL side Newbridge Town in a midweek friendly, Portlaoise were anxious to play well in this encounter.
Portlaoise had the ideal start as Darragh Kelly and Tiernan Cahill combined to set up Brian Smith to rifle the ball to the roof of the net from 22 meters to give them the lead after just three minutes.
Moments later Tiernan Cahill got a firm header on a beautiful Cillian Friel cross only to see the home keeper equal to the effort. In the sixth minute Clonaslee counter attacked with an excellent through ball, forcing a Town defender to commit a foul and from the resultant free two Clonaslee players combined to score an equaliser from a well placed shot.
Within minutes Clonaslee spurned a good opportunity from a free in a central position 24 meters out as the shot sailed over the bar. Clonaslee then brought the best out of Darragh Kelly and Kyle Enright in turn to keep them at bay.
This sparked the Portlaoise offensive into action as they scored a truly outstanding team goal in a move involving Ben Dempsey, Darragh McDonald, Cillian Friel, with James Wheeler crossing for Brian Smith to finish with aplomb. David Olubowale was introduced from the bench and immediately Portlaoise grabbed control of the middle third.
Darragh Kelly then placed Cillian Friel who nonchalantly lobbed the keeper before tapping over the line to make it three to one after 23 minutes.
Darragh Scully for Clonaslee forced Conall Rowney to make an excellent save from a wonderful twenty five meter drive. On thirty minutes David Olubowale released Luke Dunne O’ Connor with an excellent diagonal ball.
Luke turned his man twice before crossing for Brian Smith to smash home at the near post to complete his hat-trick. Two minutes later Luke passed to Daryl Ntumba who surged at the defence before cutting inside his man and gliding the ball into the bottom corner for a great solo googan calmly finished from twelve meters to leave the half time score 6-1.
A feature of the second half was the sumptuous passes over the right back by Jamie Preston that gave his right winger James Wheeler the opportunity to show his skills. From one of these James surged into the box and slotted the ball under the advancing keeper to make it seven.
After sustained Portlaoise pressure Clonaslee broke and scored a very good goal when their number twelve unleashed a bullet from twenty meters. But Portlaoise were to have the final say when Darragh McDonald deftly turned in a Darragh Kelly angled free kick.
TEAM: Conall Rowney, Josh Hogan, Darragh Kelly, Kyle Enright, Michael Culliton, Jamie Preston, Ben Dempsey, David Olubowale, Darragh McDonald, Luke Dunne O’Connor, James Wheeler, Cillian Friel, Daryl Ntumba, Brian Smith, Tiernan Cahill. Injured - Jason Horan and Samuel Emmanuel.