Arklow RFC 0 Portlaoise RFC 33
U15 Leinster Premier League
The team bus might have missed the motorway exit but the players had the sat nav turned on as they reached their destination in emphatic fashion to come away with the points from Arklow.
On a track where the going was soft to heavy, the final score didn’t reflect the effort of the home side as captain Eanna Moynihan led Portlaoise to victory with a hat-trick of tries.
The early exchanges were even as both sides sought to come to terms with the testing conditions.
Arklow were pressing hard but a scrum to Portlaoise on their own 10-metre line allowed out-half Matt Cunningham to turn on the four-wheel drive and jink his way to the opposition 22.
This led to a sustained period of possession for Portlaoise with strong carries from Zach Maginness, Eanna Moynihan, Aaron Fitzpatrick, and Daniel Whelan.
The pressure eventually told as Arklow conceded a penalty and Portlaoise went to the playbook for a move that saw Moynihan drive over to the left of the posts. The extras were added for a 7-0 lead.
Arklow responded well and, after putting some good phases of play together in midfield, they broke clear down the left wing and it took a try-saving tackle from full-back Ethan Kelly and some good scramble defence from wing Fionn Cuddy to relieve the danger.
The warning shot only served to spark Portlaoise into action with Joey McGuinness, Conor Deegan and Fionn Mullen driving forward time and again.
Kyle Moore, who had a fine game at scrum-half, kept pace in the attack and Cunningham broke clear once again before off-loading to Whelan who was tackled into touch just short of the line with left-wing Cullen Kirwan in support.
Arklow thought they had weathered the storm but Portlaoise struck for a second try on the stroke of half-time. Second-rows Mark Ging and Cormac Drea combined to win a line-out on Arklow 22 and when the ball was re-cycled, Moynihan took control to break through for his second try. That left the score 12-0 to Portlaoise at the short whistle.
Portlaoise settled quickly in the second half and dominated both territory and possession but strong tackling and counter-rucking by Arklow kept their try line secure.
The visitors made the breakthrough midway through the half with Bill Rigney and Stephen Conroy tackling hard to give Mark Ging the opportunity to poach the ball at the ruck on the Arklow 10 metre line.
Moore fed Cunningham who off-loaded to Maginness out on the right wing and there was no stopping the powerful blind-side as he touched down under the posts and the extras were added to stretch the lead to 19-0.
Back came Arklow. They intercepted a Portlaoise pass on the wing and looked set to score only for Kelly to once again put his body on the line with a great tackle.
To top it off, he recovered possession with support from Cormac Paige and delivered a great kick in behind the Arklow defence.
Data Coffey, in on the left wing kept the pressure on and, with their tails up, Portlaoise drove Arklow back.
Moynihan was on hand once again to break through a number of tackles and touch down for his hat-trick. With the extras added, the score moved out to 26-0 to the visitors.
Arklow renewed their efforts as we headed towards fulltime and had Portlaoise pinned on their own try line before turning over possession under pressure from David Allely and Mullen.
Quick thinking by Moore got Moynihan on the move and he had Whelan on his shoulder when he was eventually stopped in his tracks.
Whelan displayed some great footwork to somehow find a path through the retreating Arklow defence and off-loaded to Cunningham who sprinted clear to score the final try of the game.
He added the conversion to leave it 33-0 to Portlaoise at the long whistle.
PORTLAOISE: Ethan Kelly, Fionn Cuddy, Daniel Whelan, Aaron Fitzpatrick, Cullen Kirwan, Matt Cunningham, Kyle Moore, Joey McGuinness, Conor Deegan, Fionn Mullen, Mark Ging, Cormac Drea, Zach Maginness, Donnchadh Carroll, Eanna Moynihan. Replacements: David Allely, Darren Maher, Dara Coffey, Stephen Conroy, Ricky Lyons, Bill Rigney.
SEE ALSO – Sadness at death of much-loved Portlaoise man Kevin O’Brien