Local rivals Portlaoise and Mountmellick met in the 2nd round of the SFAI National U-12 Cup at a dry but windy Conor Davis Park last Saturday morning.
After a strongly contested first ten minutes Portlaoise got a bit of good fortune and James Reddin capitalised on a loose ball in the Mountmellick box. Within minutes it was two up for Town when Aaron Doran scored with a crisp low shot across the ‘keeper.
Mountmellick began to find their feet Dylan Paine threaded a lovely pass to Finn Culleton who struck a thunderous shot to the top right corner to bring the game to 2-1. The game was now in the melting pot.
Portlaoise pressed while Mountmellick defended resolutely with Evan Dempsey, Declan White and Luke Paine and ‘keeper Croi all contributing. Mountmellick were threatening on the counter attack but their forays were well dealt with by the Portlaoise defence of Jamie Preston, Josh Hogan and Conall Rowney.
With half-time beckoning Town scored three quick fire goals. The first was a speculative shot from midfield dynamo Colin Conroy, the second from Tiernan Cahill and the third from Brian Smith who snapped on a rebound from a wonderful Michael Culleton strike.
Mountmellick came out fighting with the gusting wind at their backs for the second half. Most of the play was now in the middle third with both teams contesting every ball. Glasgow Cameron, Luke Dunne O’Connor, Oran Davis and Martin Culleton were the leading lights for the blues while Samuel Emmanuel, Jason Horan and Harry Whally were doing likewise for Town.
Then Aaron Doran emerged from a mass of players to score a wonderful solo goal. Mountmellick were brave and pulled one back with a marvellous goal of their own when Jamie Sales flicked on Finn Culleton’s well flighted free. The score remained so until Town capitalised on weary Mountmellick legs when first Brian Smith rounded his man to slot home and then turned provider for Tiernan Cahill who finished with aplomb.
Portlaoise can eagerly await the winners of Prosperous and Arklow Town in the next round while Mountmellick should take great heart from their brave performance in this encounter.