Port U21s claimed the Laois U21 Championship Saturday evening for the first time since 1993 in emphatic style against a spirited Graiguecullen in a damp O’Moore Park, Saturday evening. Hopes were high of a high quality encounter as both teams have played out an absorbing rivalry over the past few seasons with Port Minor Champions in 2014, and Graigue champions in 2015.
Graigue opened the scoring through Brian Byrne with a quick response from Colm Murphy to leaveeit 0-1 to 0-1 after the opening exchanges. Murphy struck again only for Danny O’Reilly to leave the game tied at 0-2 apiece nearing the 10 minute mark.
Coming up to half time Port led 0-6 to 0-4 through scores, 2 apiece from Graham Weldon and Colm Murphy, while Graigue had tagged on scores through a Danny Bolger free and a fine effort from Thomas Brennan. Port had dominated possession and scoring chances in the first half and truth be told should had been another five or six scores up given the amount of chances they created.
Graigue hit the ground running at the start of the second half with points from two Danny Bolger frees and a nice score from Eoin Aylsbury to leave them one up coming up to the 40 minute mark.
Port who had made a lethargic start to the half then sprung into life, points from Jordan Fitzpatrick, Colm Murphy, Jake Foster and Curtis Lyons without reply from Graigue left the score at 0-10 to 0-07 going into the final quarter.
Colin Slevin then scored a brace of lovely points to put some air between the sides going into the final ten minutes. At this stage Port started to motor as Graigue necessarily abandoned their defensive strategy to commit numbers forward, this left space at the back which Port ruthlessly exploited on the counter with a Colm Murphy goal to bring his personal tally to 1-7 and the lively Jake Foster with 1-1 to leave the final score at 2-15 to 0-8.
Best for Port in a fine team performance were Captain Paddy O’Sullivan and Graham Weldon at centrefield, Robbie Pigott was commanding at centre back, and Colm Murphy with Jake Foster the pick of the forwards. Special mention to the minor stars who made the step up to U21; Eoin Kennedy, Alex Mohan, Colin Slevin, Curtis Lyons, Ronan Coffey and Jordan Fitzpatrick who were all excellent. Scott Osbourne in goal made a couple of timely saves and his accurate kick outs provided the platform for a considerable amount of Port attacks. Diarmuid Bennett was excellent in marshalling a youthful fullback line with Steven Lyons and Evan Clancy providing guile and industry in the forwards.
Huge congratulations to both team and mentors on a great achievement in what is the final U21 championship to be played in Laois. Well done to all those involved.
Video Courtesy of www.laois-tv.ie
Portarlington: Colm Murphy 1-7 (0-4 frees), Jake Foster 1-2 (0-1 free), Graham Weldon 0-2, Colin Slevin 0-2, Jordan Fitzpatrick 0-1, Curtis Lyons 0-1
Graiguecullen: Danny Bolger 0-3 (frees), Eoin Aylsbury 0-1, Trevor Collins 0-1, Brian Byrne 0-1, Thomas Brennan 0-1, Ryan O’Grady 0-1
Scott Osbourne; Eoin Kennedy, Diarmuid Bennett, Alex Mohan; Colin Slevin, Robbie Pigott, Curtis Lyons; Graham Weldon, Paddy O’Sullivan; Jordan Fitzpatrick, Evan Clancy, Ronan Coffey; Jake Foster, Colm Murphy, Stevie Lyons. Subs: Cormac Curtis for S Lyons
Ger Kieran; Trevor Collins, Tunde Ogunfowora, Sean Farrell; Kyle O’Brien, Eoin Alsybury, Martin Doyle; Jamie Sheehan, Danny Bolger; Dean Malone, Brian Byrne, Paul Mulready; Thomas Brennan, Danny O’Reilly, Ethan O’Neill. Subs: Musa Sulaiman for O’Brien (47 mins), Ryan O’Grady for Kieran (52 mins), Dean Kelly for Malone (54 mins), Conor Hayden for Farell (57 mins), Ian Bradley for Mulready (61 mins)
Match Reports from Leinster Express and Laoistoday in links below