McGowan Cup Final
A LARGE crowd for Portlaoise and Naas flocked to Donnybrook to support their clubs under-13 teams as they contested McGowan Cup final on Monday 6 May.
Portlaoise had already narrowly defeated Naas twice this season and were looking to make it a hat-trick over their old rivals. Previous meetings this season were both tense and tight affairs and Naas were undoubtedly hungry for revenge.
Both teams started very well but it was Naas that came closest in the opening few minutes. Portlaoise’s Evan Browne needed to make a try saving tackle just short of the Portlaoise try line to keep Naas out.
The game progressed in a well-balanced manner thereafter and remained scoreless until the 15th minute when a loose pass from an attacking Naas player was dropped. Evan Browne was first to the ball and ran from inside his own 22 to score a fantastic break away try under the posts. PJ Daly converted.
Portlaoise now pressed even harder and the ever-menacing Mikey Dowling made a well-timed pass to Luke Rigney from the back of a ruck. Rigney, still with still lots to do, was able to build speed and momentum and bullied his way straight under the posts. Daly again converted giving Portlaoise a 14-0 lead at half time.
Naas again started the second half well but Portlaoise controlled the game through the boot of their out half and kept Naas at arm’s length with great composure. When Naas were in possession Portlaoise pushed up quickly and pressurised. This pressure paid off when Dean Brophy landed a ferocious tackle on his opposing number resulting in a wayward pass that Portlaoise’s Cormac Rigney took full advantage of. The winger showed great awareness to beat the Naas defence again and cross under the posts, and Daly extended their lead.
If anyone was to think Naas were finished they were sadly mistaken. At 21-0 down Naas were far from resigning. They instantly replied with a converted try and within five minutes had scored a second converted try making it 21-14.
Naas had Portlaoise on the back foot and piled the pressure on. Wave after wave of attacks were heaped upon Portlaoise, however Fionn Whelan, Emmet Glynn, Scot Meaney and Rory Drea were fearless in every tackle.
The Portlaoise team’s work ethic was impeccable. Each time Naas attempted to make ground Portlaoise refused to allow them back into the game. Shane Buggy, Conor Handcock and Daniel O’Rourke repeatedly sacrificed their bodies as they drove Naas back metre by metre.
Great work from a supporting back line saw Dean Brophy and William Seale force errors from their opposing numbers and again their work around the rucks was faultless, while Craig Adams had a solid game at full back. PJ Daly gave Portlaoise breathing space in the closing minutes with a remarkable penalty that would ultimately seal their victory.
Naas as ever determined and persistent fought gallantly until the final whistle, their efforts were a credit to both their club and coaches. Portlaoise held on for victory and added the McGowan Cup to their Leinster Premier League title.
Portlaoise’s hunt for a treble of titles will continue when the Area League final will conclude their season on Saturday 10 May.
PORTLAOISE: Shane Buggy, Fionn Whelan, Conor Handcock, Daniel O’Rourke, Emmet Glynn, Scot Meaney, Rory Drea, Luke Rigney, Michael Dowling, Evan Browne, Craig Adams, Dean Brophy, Cormac Rigney, William Seale, PJ Daly. Replacements: David Maher, Dylan Kavanagh, Jack Kennedy, Michael Nerney, Dan Cremin, Luke Kerr, Stephen Hunt, Buddy Adlam, Jimmy Tyrell, Conor Dwyer, David Donoghue, James Phelan, Ben Quinn, Eoghan McCann, Cathal Cooney.