Portlaoise AFC U-15s 7 Killeigh 0
Girls SFAI U-16 South Leinster Final
On a pristine astroturf in Moate, Portlaoise U-15’s team won their second trophy in two weeks, following their League success last week.
This time around, it was the SFAI South Leinster Cup, and they beat their near rivals Killeigh FC in a final that was closer than the scoreline suggests.
In doing so, they extended their record since February 2019 to 46 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat in 50 games, beating teams from all across the country in that period.
In fact, in those 4 years, this fantastic bunch of young women have won every competition that they have entered into.
However more than that, they have developed into a real team and a tightknit bunch of friends for life, and this final represented one of the last times that they got to play together as a group.
Goalkeeper Doireann Brennan and centre back Niamh Dundon have signed for Athlone Town u17’s team whilst striker Ciara Breslin has signed for Wexford Youths, so, against this backdrop, Portlaoise took to the field determined to give one last grand performance to send the girls on their way.
Killeigh started brightly and were set up solidly at the back, and for the first 7 or 8 minutes, looked the stronger team playing with a slight breeze at their back.
Portlaoise’s back 3 of Dundon, Emily Flynn and captain Hollie Murphy held firm, and were well supported on the flanks by hugely industrious performances from Anna Keegan and Leah Brophy.
On 10 minutes, Leah Brennan, who is playing the football of her life recently, ran at the Killeigh defense and was fouled on the edge of the box. Up stepped Murphy, and drilled the ball over the wall and into the net from 22 yards to give Portlaoise a just about deserved lead.
Up front, Sally Morgan and Ciara Breslin were starting to be a handful for the Killeigh defense. On 21 minutes, a great team move involving Aoibheann Bourke and Leah Brophy seen the ball land at Breslin’s feet – she played in Morgan, who coolly found the net.
The rest of the half was really tit for tat – Killeigh pressed, but could not create anything, finding the Portlaoise midfield three of Bourke, Brennan and Emma Frances really hard to break down.
At half time, Maisie Kerry came on, and slotted into the attack as Morgan dropped to midfield. The first 10 minutes of the second half really was hammer time for Portlaoise, as Emma Frances started to find her range of passing, which really got the attack going.
On 48 minutes, she found Breslin wide on the left with her back to goal. A quick stepover left her marker for dead, and she was through one on one with the keeper, opening her body to find the bottom corner in what was possibly one of her best Portlaoise goals.
Three minutes later Saoirse Carroll Connell, just on as a sub found Aoibheann Bourke, who fed Leah Brennan – another quick ball released Breslin and she finished with a left foot strike across the keeper to make it 4 and put the game out of reach.
Elizabeth O’Connor and Keelin Moore arrived on the park on 55 minutes, and both were quickly up to speed. Moore’s quick thinking got the attack going again, and she played in Kerry who set up Breslin for her hat trick goal.
O’Connor’s pace had Killeigh troubled on the right and she latched onto another Emma Frances ball to flash a shot at goal that brought a great save from the Killeigh keeper.
Lucy Moran and Abi Swift came on to make way for Doireann Brennan and Niamh Dundon, and both slotted in seamlessly.
As the game came to an end, there was still time for two more Portlaoise goals – and two fine strikes they were. Maisie Kerry finished a half volley to the corner of the net following a lovely through ball from Moore, whilst Sally Morgan capped another super individual performance with a 25 yard blockbuster into the top corner.
As the ref blew the final whistle there were loud cheers from the Portlaoise support, both for their all-conquering team , but also for their opponents, who have often proven to be a really tough opponent over the last number of years.
In fact, it is encouraging to see that all these matches are played in the most sporting manner.
Hollie Murphy, captain of Portlaoise, gave a lovely speech thanking Killeigh, the officials and the SFAI and MSL, before calling on the departing trio of Brennan, Dundon and Breslin to help her lift the cup.
A real team performance for Portlaoise.
PORTLAOISE: Doireann Brennan; Hollie Murphy (c), Niamh Dundon, Emma Frances; Emily Flynn, Aoibheann Bourke, Leah Brophy, Leah Brennan, Ciara Breslin, Keelin Moore, Sally Morgan, Anna Keegan, Saoirse Carroll Connell, Maisie Kerry, Lily O’ Meara, Elizabeth O’Connor, Lucy Moran, Abi Swift
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