Latest Laois Sport: Portlaoise AFC’s winning start to season continues with victory over St. Kevin’s Boys
Portlaoise club down Dublin side with late flurry of goals
Local side left it late to grab all three points
Portlaoise AFC 2 St. Kevin’s Boys 1
The Laois side, buoyed by a thumping 6-nil away win on the first weekend of the new season, faced their first home examination of the new campaign with the visit of Whitehall-based giants St. Kevin’s Boys. It was the Dublin side that started much more strongly however. The Metropolitans’ captain Gavin McCabe was starting raid after raid from his right-back posting and linking well with his inmidfield. That saw McCormack called into action early on in the home goals. When the visitors weren’t raiding down the right flank they flighted in the odd long ball to set off alarm bells in the Portlaoise defence.
After a shaky opening ten minutes Portlaoise began to get to grips with the opposition. The Laois outfit were beginning to have joy up their own right wing with Niall Doran getting on a lot of ball. He, in turn, began to feed the sharp front pairing of Jason and Chris Mulhall who both forced the visiting keeper Gavin Browne into a series of scrambling saves. However the service into the Portlaoise front men wasn’t always of the highest quality. Indeed Portlaoise’s first instinct when they got to the half-way line was fire the ball long in behind the St. Kevin’s Boys rearguard. Mulhall can play off the shoulder of the last defender but the striker would be the first to admit the lightning pace of his League of Ireland days is not there anymore. When Mulhall did hold the ball up well the support was too slow in getting to him at times.
Portlaoise though looked the more threatening as half-time approached. Lovely close control from Mulhall saw the striker nutmeg the last defender but ran out of room to unleash his shot. Then the frontman turned provider but his lay off to Aaron Rafter saw the final attempt on goal blocked. When Michael Rodgers was fouled in possession Paul Cahillane’s free from out on the left saw Browne scrambling to claw it from under the crossbar. Murphy had too venomous shots of his own late on in the half that Browne was equal to.
In truth both midfields cancelled each other out for long periods of the opening half so no score at half time was the result. It seemed destined that one defensive error would decide this tie. So it seemed early on in the second half when a very poor backpass from Fitzpatrick to McCormack saw Steve Cantwell steam in from top of the left and fire home the game’s opening goal. That setback saw Portlaoise rally and former Celtic player Paul Cahillane demanded more and more of the ball. He was showing well for the return pass now and his passing range and vision soon had Portlaoise passing through the lines. However the final ball in was always overhit as cross after cross sailed over too high and let a St. Kevin’s Boys defence off the hook again and again. The introduction of Robbie Farrell helped swing the tide in Portlaoise’s favour as his work out wide unnerved an under-siege visiting defence.
Yet with just fifteen minutes remaining the Dublin side looked odds on to head up the M7 with all three points. Finally all that Portlaoise pressure told however. St. Kevin’s Boys failed to clear their lines and the big crowd sensed something was on as the ball broke out to the lurking Colm Poole. The youngster made no mistake and his low shot fired past Browne to nestle in the bottom right-hand corner for the equaliser. It got even better for the home side with just a little over five minutes remaining. Murphy pounced on another defensive mistake to fire home the winning goal to deflate their Dublin visitors and send the big Portlaoise support home happy.
Best for the visitors were Gavin Browne, Gavin McCabe and Steve Cantwell. For Portlaoise Chris Mulhall and Jason Murphy were sharp throughout but especially in the opening half. in the second period both Paul Cahillane and Robbie Farrell shone. However Cahillane is our ‘Laois People’ Player of the Match as he demanded the ball and dragged his side back into the game after going a goal behind.
Sean McCormack; Oisin Fitzpatrick, James Dermody, Niall Doran, Aidan McGovern, Paul Cahillane, Colm Poole, Michael Rodgers, Aaron Rafter, Jason Murphy Chris Mulhall
-Evan McEvoy for Michael Rogers on 45 mins
-James Mullaney for Aaron Rafter on 45 mins
-Robbie Farrell came on for Aidan McGovern on 70 mins
-James Newell for Chris Mulhall on 89 mins