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Rugby: Portlaoise RFC U-14 girls advance to league cup final and Kettle Festival a big success

Portlaoise RFC U-14 Girls (2)

Greystones 10 Portlaoise 24
Leinster U-14 Girls Rugby League Semi Final

Portlaoise travelled to Greystones on Saturday where the pitch was in perfect condition for this U-14 League Cup semi-final.

Adorning the walls of the club house were pictures of past players including Portlaoise’s Brian Rigney. Due to Camogie Féile games Portlaoise travelled with only 15 players.

Molly Jane Dempsey got proceedings under way but Greystones applied serious pressure. Strong carries brought them into the Portlaoise 22.

However, stout defensive work led by Lilly Brophy, Orlaith Costigan and Faye Scully held them at bay.

Portlaoise overturned the ball with great work from Jessica Delany. Saffron Adams and Lilly Brophy then led the charge into the Greystones 22.

Freya Stanley was pulling the opposition into the centre with her dynamic running. This was leaving acres of space on the wing and a quick ball from Emily Harvey released Molly Jane Dempsey to tear in for the opening try.

Portlaoise continued with the pressure from the restart and, while the ball was overturned, Greystones had little choice but to kick possession away.

Freya Stanley gathered it and embarked on a mazy run. Captain, Sarah Keane then released Molly Jane Dempsey who evaded several tackles and touch down under the posts. Saffron Adams added the conversion.

Greystones were still very much in the game and only a try saving tackle from Chloe Kavanagh causing a knock prevented them from scoring.

Portlaoise needed to apply a bit more pressure and dominant carrying from Daisy Whitten brought Portlaoise close to the try line.

Ciara Cuddy drew the defence and off-loaded to Jessica Delaney to drive over for Portlaoise’s third try.

Greystones did overturn the ball and would have the last say of the half with their first try leaving the score at 5-17 at the break.

Greystones had the wind in the second half and applied the pressure. Taking control of the game they got their due reward with the next try.

The game was beginning to take on a real semi-final atmosphere. Greystones were applying all the pressure. Portlaoise showed why they are unbeaten all season holding Greystones out. Tara Peavoy played out of her skin.

The Greystones full back twice broke the line on two occasions only to be met by Freya Stanley with world class tackles.

Portlaoise turned the screw with Aoibheann Conroy was overturning ball now. Molly Fitzpatrick was making impressive runs on the wings.

A quick release out to Aoibheann Conroy saw her race in under the posts and give Portlaoise an unassailable lead.

The game would peter out and now Portlaoise advance to the final against Arklow, a repeat of last year’s final.

PORTLAOISE PANEL: Jessica Delaney, Daisy Whitten, Amy Peters, Chloe Kavanagh, Lilly Brophy, Molly Jane Dempsey, Saffron Adams, Freya Stanley, Kate Ging, Kate Dowling, Emily Harvey, Molly Fitzpatrick, Abbie Delaney, Aoibheann Conroy, Tara Peavoy, Ella Sherlock, Emma Heffernan, Faye Scully, Orlaith Costigan, Ellie Mahoney, Grace Pearson, Ciara Cuddy, Emma Fitzpatrick, Sarah Cunningham, Muireann Thompson, Sarah Keane, Meabh Dooley.

The Kettle Cup Festival saw 32 U-10 teams, representing 16 clubs from all over Leinster, descend on the Portlaoise RFC grounds at Togher on Saturday.

The festival is named in honour of legendary Balbriggan man Tom Kettle who helped reform Balbriggan RFC in the late 1960s and was at the forefront in developing Youths Rugby in Leinster and Ireland.

Each team consisted of a squad of 16 players with eight competing at any one time on the pitch.

The teams involved were Portlaoise, Portarlington, Cill Dara, Naas, Newbridge, Blessington, Tullow, Carlow, Birr, Longford, Tullamore, Boyne, Enniscorthy, Gorey, Kilkenny, and Wexford Wanderers.

Portlaoise RFC deserved to be thanked for the very efficient manner in which the festival was run and for the excellent conditions of their grounds.