Shane Collins, Eoghan White and Paul Cahillane celebrate their second and decisive goal against Pegasus St. James at Rossleighan Park on Thrusday night. Photo Denis Byrne.
Portlaoise AFC first team moved into second place in the Leinster Senior League Senior 1B on Friday night following a hard fought two goal victory over Pegasus/St James Athletic.
The two side had never met as Portlaoise have been working their way up to Intermediate football the last few seasons and Pegasus/St James Athletic were relegated from Senior 1A last season.
The home started really well and tore into their opponents with some really slick attacking moves that thrilled the home support.
Jason Murphy went really close after just three minutes following a great team move involving the returning Martin Staunton, Shane Collins and Colm Poole, Murphy beat three players before shooting inches wide.
On seven minutes another team move ended with Murphy being fouled on the edge of the area and Paul Cahillane’s resulting free kick was superbly tipped over.
Portlaoise opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Emmanuel Okpara did really well to hold off his marker and play back to James Mullany who played a long pass to Rafter to flick onto Murphy. He ran past the defender an clipped the ball over the advancing keeper for his seventh goal of the season. Portlaoise went further ahead three minutes later when a brilliant Colm Poole corner was flicked on by Rafter for the onrushing Eoghan White to fire home from close range.
Pegasus settled into the game and had a couple of chances by goalkeeper Graham Brody was excellent on his season debut for Portlaoise.
On the stroke of half time Portlaoise went close again when Aaron Rafter and Shane Collins combined well to side up Colm Poole but his curling strike was just off target.
The visitors were a no nonsense and physically much bigger side than Portlaoise and their direct play would be a feature of a battling second half.
Pegasus had two good chances to get an equaliser midway through the second half but the hit the crossbar then headed over from a corner. Late on Portlaoise had one final chance to go further ahead when a pass from Brody was picked up by James Mullaney when went on a great dribbling run beating three players before playing back to Cahillane who crossed to Murphy but his overhead volley was just off target.
The game was sponsored by Anthony Dunne Motors who presented the man of the match award to Emmanuel Okpara after the game.
Portlaoise travel to Celbridge on Sunday moring to take on another side they haven’t faced in recent seasons. An interesting footnote to this game will be that former Portlaoise AFC manager Stan Moss is involved with Celbridge Town.
Portlaoise Team: Graham Brody, James Mullaney, Eoghan White, Martin Staunton, Oisin Fitzpatrick, Colm Poole, Emmanuel Okpara, Paul Cahillane, Oisin Fitzpatrick, Jason Murphy, Aaron Rafter, Shane Collins. Subs: Aaron Doran for Fitzpatrick (31 minutes) Mark Dunne for Staunton (64), Brian Ging for Rafter (72), Sean Fitzpatrick, Jayson Bergin, Aaron Wright.