Portlaoise United hosted Killeigh in this Shield game on Saturday morning last with the early kick-off avoiding the worst of the stormy weather that was to follow. However, the strong winds still had a major impact on the game.
Portlaoise United 2
MSL U-16 Shield
Despite playing against the wind, Portlaoise started well with their central midfield partnership of Luke Makem and Callum Leonard taking control, John Ging linking up well on the right flank while David Burke pumped some nice balls down the left to frontmen Fionn Devoy and Thomas Swords.
On ten minutes the elements played a big part in the opening goal when a long wind-assisted ball out of defence resulted in a corner for Killeigh. The resulting kick then went directly into the net to make it one-nil to the away side in their first attack of the game.
This gave them a massive boost, resulting in them taking control for a period with some neat play. Twenty minutes in and they doubled their lead with a well-worked effort, Portlaoise were now in trouble.
In fairness to Portlaoise, they regained their composure and pressed hard for a goal back before the break. Callum Leonard
and Fionn Devoy did trojan work while Thomas Swords was switching play with some excellent cross-field passes. Portlaoise had efforts from Burke and Leonard before the break, but the Killeigh defence held firm to keep their two-goal advantage.
The second half saw Portlaoise use the elements to get back into the game. Central defenders Tadhg Duffin and Sean O’Sullivan were outstanding during the half, pushing forward and playing excellent balls to their front men along with putting in some excellent defensive tackles. Full-backs Finn Delaney and Tony Coss were also impressive as Portlaoise continued to press.
Ryan Mitchel, stepping up from the U-15s, was linking up well on the right flank as Portlaoise kept plugging away. With 15 minutes remaining the versatile Callum Leonard, who has played in various positions this season, won a free-kick 20 yards out. Sean O’Sullivan's powerful effort was parried by the keeper and the alert Fionn Devoy was on hand to finish with a well-deserved goal for his overall play.
Five minutes later and unbelievably the same scene was repeated again. Leonard brought down, Sullivan's powerful effort parried and Devoy finished.
As Portlaoise pushed for the winner Killeigh threatened on the break with keeper Aidan Keane off his line quickly on three occasions to smother the danger, while Duffin again was a power of strength.
Good play from Makem and Swords saw Devoy go close to his hat trick after a clever ball in from Mitchel, but the final whistle saw the sides finish level. Overall a great effort from both sides in testing conditions.