PORTLAOISE signalled their intention to rebuild their side into a force to be reckoned with at Togher on Sunday last.
Captain Rosie Palmer led her team into the first competitive match of the season with trepidation as no less than six of her players have not been tested at this level, having graduated from the under-18 side. In the event the Portlaoise combination of youthful talent and well-won experience set about their task in workmanlike fashion.
From the outset some aggressive play by Karen Plunkett and Stef Gleeson, in the centre, gave Anna O’Neill the opportunity to show her pace and evasive skill to storm to within metres of the touch line before being restrained by a staunch Thurles defence. The well timed offload by O’Neill allowed Ellen Booth plunder a try within the opening five minutes. O’Neill converted to give Portlaoise the start they needed.
Portlaoise dominated the lineouts with sterling performances from Eimear Lynam, Olivia Fennelly and Amy Byrne. Andrea Gonzalez was particularly impressive all over the park and presented a constant threat with her height and speed.
Olivia Fennely was a wall in defence, off-loading to Lauren Roberts and Ellen Booth who put Muireann Scully through for a signature one-handed low weaving try. O’Neill again converted.
Thurles had a resurgence after kicking a penalty goal and then scoring a try beneath the posts. The resulting conversion left the half-time score at 14-10 in Portlaoise’s favour.
The second half saw captain Palmer leading from the front by scoring in the corner after a move involving Gonzalez, Scully and Roberts. Shona Whelehan and Aoife Murphy also made their presence felt.
Thurles responded with a try and conversion leaving the score finely balanced at 19-17.
A try by Anna O’Neill stretched the lead to 24-17 but Emma Brophy’s try put the outcome beyond doubt and earned a bonus point.
Thurles managed a compensation try bringing the final score to 29-22.
Ellen booth was nominated woman of the match for most consistent all round performance.
Portlaoise Women, Girls under-18s and under-15s are recruiting now and have regular training sessions on Tuesday and Friday evenings at Portlaoise RFC. Why not give it a try.