u18 Boys Reports

Strap – Leinster Rugby U/18 Plate s/f

Head –

Portlaoise U/18’s overcome a shaky start to advance to Plate final

Portlaoise     26

Enniscorthy  15

PORTLAOISE and Enniscorthy met for the second time in a week, this time in the Leinster U/18 plate semi-final on Saturday. While the Portlaoise team had come out on top in the league final, Enniscorthy were not coming to Togher for a second loss and they started with great confidence and aggression.

The home team still had the previous week’s result in their heads and were badly caught out in the second minute. Enniscorthy won a lineout, released the ball out across the backline and scored in the corner to take an early lead. The home side conceded penalty after penalty, letting Enniscorthy work their way down the pitch and crossing the line again for a second try after just 10 minutes.

It was back and forth for the two teams for the next ten minutes until Stevie Delaney locked onto the ball to win a penalty. It was taken quickly and passed out to winger Mikie Daly, who had to work hard to cross in the corner and put Portlaoise on the scoreboard.

Portlaoise upped their game, and after continuous pressure in the Enniscorthy half, Glen Connolly barged his way over to level the score. Matt Coonan was successful with the conversion to leave the score 12-10 going into the half time break.

The second half started well for the home side, gradually getting their passing game into gear, but a dropped ball let Enniscorthy capitalise on the mistake and they moved back up the field. The ball was passed out to one of their huge forwards and he bulldozed his way over to retake the lead fort the Wexford side.

Neither team were able to take control of the game with possession changing hands several times. But when Portlaoise were awarded a penalty in the opposition half Glen Connolly carried well. Marc Bracken found Ciaran Culleton on the left and he in turn passed on to Mikie Daly who made great ground down the touch line. The ball was offloaded on the inside to Culleton who had an easy run in for a try. Coonan was successful with the kick to leave the score 19-15 to the home side.

Enniscorthy worked their way back up the field where, from a scrum on the 22, the number eight picked and released the out half and only a superb tackle from James Kidd kept him from crossing the line. A penalty was conceded but Portlaoise were able to clear their line.

It was end to end drama. A rushed clearance kick by Enniscorthy was fielded by James Kidd, who was still sitting his Leaving Cert Irish oral when this game started. He certainly got an A1 on the field when he used his blistering speed down the touchline leaving defenders in his wake to score a game-changer in any language. Coonan converted to put 11 points between the teams.

Portlaoise held out for the next six minutes to claim victory and progress to their second final of the season. They will need to improve on their discipline and cut out the mistakes if they are to lift a second piece of silverware this year. The final versus Tullow takes place on Friday 22 April in IT Carlow.


PORTLAOISE PANEL: Brian Barry, Dara Phelan, Corey Bartley, Darragh Davies, Glen Connolly, Stephen Delaney, Cian Coffey, Ronan Donlon, Marc Bracken, Matthew Coonan, Mikie Daly, Mitch Fitzpatrick, Sean Ward, Ciaran Culleton, James Kidd, Daniel Fingleton, Adam Breen, Luke Walsh, Thomas Bradley.

 Strap – Leinster Rugby U18 Division 2 final
Head -Portlaoise U/18s turn on the style to capture league title Portlaoise 50 Enniscorthy 20

PORTLAOISE RFC U18 travelled the short distance to Athy for Leinster League final on Saturday and returned home with the title after a resounding victory over Enniscorthy. From the start they attacked the Enniscorthy line and with the early pressure they flashed the ball across the backline for Mikie Daly to score out wide after just three minutes, the conversion was just wide to give them an early 5-0 lead.

Straight from the restart Enniscorthy pinned Portlaoise back inside their 22 where, from a lineout maul, they drove them back to the line. After a number of rucks, the big Enniscorthy pack crossed the line to level the score. Portlaoise went straight back up the field and, when the ball was released to Darragh Davies, he used all his strength to drive defenders back all of 15 metres to cross the line and put his name on the scoreboard. Matthew Coonan was successful with the conversion to leave the Laois side with a seven point lead. Shortly after, Portlaoise won a scrum on the halfway line. The ball was passed out the backs to Ciaran Culleton who made great ground to score under the posts. Coonan again added the extras to give them a 14 point lead.

Enniscorthy needed to stay in touch and only some great tackles by Corey Bartley, Glen Connolly and a belter from Brian Keane kept them at bay. But too many penalties conceded kept Portlaoise pinned back in their 22. Just before half time the Wexford side crossed for a five pointer to leave the score 19-10 at the break. From the restart, Culleton fielded the kick off and offloaded to Connolly who has been working on his sidestep in recent weeks. The dividends paid off and he made 60 metres down the field before he was tackled. From the resultant ruck, the ball was flashed across the backline from right to left for James Kidd to score in the corner. Three minutes later, Kidd was on the scoreboard again. This time he fielded a clearance kick and weaved his way through the defenders untouched to get another five pointer, 29-10 to Portlaoise. Some bad decisions in their own 22 led to a lot pressure on the Portlaoise defence but a superb tackle by Bartley led to a turnover when Sean Ward gained valuable ground down the field. From a resultant scrum, Dara Phelan won the ball against the head. Ward picked and it was left to Connolly to score under the posts. Coonan kicked the extra two to leave the score at 36-10. The restart was not dealt with well and Enniscorthy were quick to go over for their third try. Not to be outdone, Portlaoise attacked again, Culleton unlucky not to gather a cross-kick from Coonan. But from a lineout, Ronan Donlon won the ball and it was left to Connolly to go over for his second score with Coonan converting.

For the second time, Portlaoise didn’t deal with the restart and the Wexford side were quick to capitalise with another score.
With the bench emptied, Portlaoise were still in the right areas of the field. From an Enniscorthy lineout in their own 22, Marc Bracken came from nowhere to intercept a pass and stroll across the line to put a final gloss on the score, 50-20 to the Togher side and start the celebrations. Next week Portlaoise will take on the same opposition in the semi-final of the
Leinster Plate competition.

PORTLAOISE PANEL: Brian Barry, Dara Phelan, Corey Bartley, Darragh Davies,
Glen Connolly, Sean Ward, Cian Coffey, Ronan Donlon, Marc Bracken, Matthew
Coonan, Mikie Daly, Mitch Fitzpatrick, Brian Keane, Ciaran Culleton, James Kidd,
Daniel Fingleton, Adam Breen, Stephen Delaney, Luke Walsh, Thomas Bradley,
Liam McNulty.