Thursday, March 02, 2023

Rugby – Leinster Premier U/18 League

Barnhall         10

Portlaoise     31

THERE was sadness in the air as both teams showed respect with a minutes silence for the late past President of Portlaoise RFC, Pat Hooban. Pat would be proud of this five-star performance from the young men of Portlaoise who tore Barnhall apart in the bright lights of the Maynooth University grounds.

Portlaoise took any early lead, a lead that was never relinquished with some hard running by Ivan Okonkwo and Dara Phelan and set up a delightful platform for Dylan Kelly to get the ball out wide where the full back Ciaran Culleton joined the line to perfection to take the ball at full speed and was impossible to stop.

The Portlaoise defence was outstanding as any open fractures were well and truly casted by a superb centre partnership of Conor Raggett and Sam Browne. Barnhall were getting frustrated and were guilty of conceding a lot of penalties and Matthew Coonan was not in any forgiving mood and landed two kicks to stretch the Portlaoise lead.

Daragh Townsend and Adam Glynn were outstanding all day and proved that they are more than catchers in the line out as they drove Portlaoise forward on every occasion and their ability to get to rucks on time and kept the Barnhall snipping hands away from any Portlaoise ball.

If Barnhall found it difficult to get around the Portlaoise defence they changed strategy and started to go route one and it paid dividends as their forwards got five points back after some extremely hard work. But Portlaoise were on top form and responded immediately. It was that man again, Ciaran Culleton, playing a captain’s role, sliced through the Barnhall defence. Coonan converted to leave the score reading 18-5 to Portlaoise at half time.

The second half took time to match the intensity of the first but, when it did, Portlaoise were on fire. Evan Bergin, getting a reputation for been the best jackler in the game, was a menace all day and won Portlaoise a penalty that Coonan struck over for another three points.

With time running out Jake Colbert picked up a stray ball and drove at the Barnhall tacklers but it is Portlaoise’s ability to speed things up when required that was most impressive as the try of the day came from a beautiful move where Daniel Thornton received the ball on the 22 metre line and he only had one thing on his mind and that was five more points. The extras were taken plus another penalty for good measure and just one blip from Portlaoise as a dropped ball led to Barnhall trying to put some respect on the score sheet with a try at the final whistle.

On behalf of the players, coaches, managers and parents this one is for you Pat. We appreciate everything you have done for the club and if it wasn’t for people like you, matches like this wouldn’t be possible.

As a result of this win, Portlaoise consolidate their position at the top of the table and next game up is away v Balbriggan on Sunday next, 5 March.

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,

Physio: Mick Comer

Coaches: Roy Glynn, Mark Phelan, Owen Coonan, Paddy Bergin, Pat Duggan, Richie Whelan

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