Leinster U/18 League
St Mary’s 14
PORTLAOISE dominated this game from start to finish, running in eight tries, four in each half to win their first Leinster League game in the 2022/23 season. Ciaran Culleton got the score board ticking over after three minutes as powerful early dominance forced gaps in the St Mary’s defence and Culleton duly accepted the space to score a try and put Portlaoise into the lead, a lead they never relinquished.
With ten minutes gone the Portlaoise forwards were making hard yards, in particular Sam Browne and Evan Bergin being impressive. This set the platform up nicely for the backs to express themselves, Jake Byrne at scrum half popping sweet balls out to 10, Jake Darcy who got the back line moving.
Three tries were scored in quick succession. When Culleton ran out of space on the wing, he was clever enough to pop the ball back to the supporting Jake Darcy who ran under the posts to touch down and make it easier for the extra two points.
The second and third try were carbon copies as another Jake, this time Jake Colbert, steamrolled through the St Mary’s defence on twice to stretch the Portlaoise lead. Mathew Coonan converted two of the tries to leave the score 24-0.
Then a lapse of concentration let St Mary’s in for two tries to leave the score standing at 24-14 at half time.
Annoyed at the concession of those two tries, Portlaoise started to play as a unit on the restart. Evan Caffrey stood up and took charge, drove on the pack and crossed the white wash to extend the lead.
St Mary’s were getting tired now and more tries were inevitable and the next one was worth waiting for. After continuous hard yards gained by Dara Phelan, Ivan Okonkwo picked up the ball on his own 22, evaded three tackles and found himself in open space with only the full back to beat. With Dylan Kelly supporting him all the way, Okonkwo wisely played a one-two with Kelly and added five more points.
The game was well out of the breach of St Mary’s at this stage. There was still time for Ciaran Culleton to add to his tally and the impressive Daniel Thornton scored under the posts to leave the score 14-50 at the full time whistle.
Special thanks to Mick Comer for making the long journey and helping out these young men.
Next game up is home to Barnhall on Sunday next, 13 November at 12am.
PORTLAOISE ACADEMY SQUAD: Ciaran Culleton, Mathew Coonan, Stephen Delaney, Dara Phelan, Cian Coffey, Brian Barry, James Kidd, Billy Kerry, Adam Glynn, Cathal Kenny, Killian O’Keeffe, Conor Raggett, Daniel Fingleton, Dylan Kelly, Evan Bergin, Evan Caffrey, Ivan Okonkwo, Jake Andrews, Jake Culbert, Jake Darcy, Jamie Baldwin, Paddy Reddin, PJ Larkin, Ross Bradley, Killian McHugh, Sean Peters, Nathan Duffy, David Duggan, Daniel Thornton, Andrew Schiller, Nathan Flanagan, Killian Bowe, Eoin Rooney, Darragh Townsend, Aran Coiley, Euan McCann, Callum Carroll, Aaron Kingston, Conor Stack, Ryan Gilligan, Jake Byrne, Robert Keane, Dylan Browne, Sean Dunne, Ryan McEvoy, Rory Costigan, Josh Grogan, Sam Browne, Robbie Murtagh,
Coaches: Roy Glynn, Mark Phelan, Owen Coonan, Paddy Bergin, Pat Duggan, Richie Whelan
Physio: Mick Comer