The Soccer Files
Every so often we cave in to our need for nostalgia here at the Laois People and so pick out a special moment from the past. This time around it’s the turn of Portlaoise AFC who fielded a youthful side in the Eircom U-21 League some seven seasons ago.
Eircom U21 League
Portlaoise AFC 0 St. Patrick’s Athletic 2
St. Pat’s legend Paul Osam was entitled to be ‘very pleased’ at the end of a satisfying 90 minutes from the Inchicore side. The U-21 side he manages had just put Portlaoise to the sword even though they had to battle manfully with just 10 men for a full eighty minutes. With an injury crisis enveloping their Senior setup many of their U-21 stable had been called up for service with the first team. So Pat’s had no subs on the line. When the Metropolitan’s Joe Hayden went to ground after 10 minutes in any observer would have feared for them.
Hayden’s departure should have been the signal for Portlaoise to push forward and grab hold of the game. Sadly the reverse occured. Pats reverted to three at the back and this defensive triumverate earned their corn. Barry Slattery did wonders in an overworked Pat’s midfield to hold up possession and link up with their lone striker. Portlaoise couldn’t make any headway as Cathal Murphy, Wayne McFaul and Darren Rogers struggled to link up midfield and attack. With Pat’s passing and moving so much more quickly the hosts were chasing shadows. So when Barry Slattery popped up at the end of Alan McCann’s cross, with less then ten minutes of the first half left, and floated his shot past a helpless Colin Nestor in the Portlaoise goals it came as little surprise.
Portlaoise tried to push on in the second period but a superb Pat’s defensive unit mopped up all the home side could throw at them. Indeed Brian Rodney and Darryl Moore made powerful bursts out from the back for the Dublin side and linked beautifully with their front men to test Colin Nestor constantly. The interplay between Rodney and Kevin Cornwall up Pat’s right flank was a delight. This wing play led to Cornwall bagging his side’s second goal with sixty minutes gone. Such was the width and pace of Pat’s play a third goal would not have flattered them. James Ryan led the home charge. Ryan got through on goal occasionally but a mean defence didn’t cough up anything soft. Darren Rogers had his stinging shot saved by Pat’s keeper Brendan Clarke. Substitute Martin Hilliard came close but Clarke twarted him. In truth the two-goal margin at the end didn’t flatter their visitors. Cathal Murphy, James Ryan and James Furlong were the star turns in a Portlaoise side that will learn from tangling with the strongest side in this competition.
Portlaoise AFC: Colin Nestor; Niall Guilfoyle, James Ryan, Mark Brennan, James Furlong; Wayne McFaul, Paul Sutton, Cathal Murphy, Darren Rogers, Joseph Delaney, Alan Dunne Subs used: Eamon O’ Connell, Martin Hilliard
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Brian Rodney, Anto Costigan, Darryl Moore, Dave Fagan; Barry Slattery, Joe Hayden, Jack Flynn, Kevin Cornwall; Adam Crouther, Alan McCann