As we prepare for the U13 SFAI Cup Quarter Final we recall the two times our schoolboy sides reached this stage in the past. We also had U18 teams that reached the quarter finals of the FAI Youths Cups in 1988 and 2006 with the side featuring current first team players Darren Rogers and Mark Brennan.
Portlaoise started an underage team for the first time and entered the Kilkenny and District League. Managed by Pat Rogers and Seamus O’Brien the team had a fantastic year and won the league title at the first attempt. The side which featured brilliant goalkeeper Johnny Keenan, current executive member Kevin O’Brien, the exciting Brian Rogers and four players who had excellent first team careers Noel and Mark O’Sullivan, Gordon Conroy and David Griffey. Conroy and Griffey were on the Portlaoise AFC team that played those historic games in the FAI Senior Cup in 1991, and reached an FAI Intermediate Cup Semi Final.
This exciting side reached the SFAI U16 Barry Cup quarter final at the first attempt beating some highly fancied teams along the way but lost out to famed Dublin underage football club Stella Maris 3-0.
The success of the first ever team was repeated a year later when a brand new team under the management of Mick O’Reilly and John Loughlin also won the Kilkenny and District league following a season long battle with Dean Celtic from Castlecomer whom they beat 3-2 in a play off. Remarkably Deam Celtic won the first game for this team 7-0, but Portlaoise recovered and hammered their rival 9-2 in the home game later that season. Portlaoise beat Graiguenamangh 5-2 in the Cup final.
Current first team player Ger Dunne was the goalkeeper that season, he also played in that FAI Senior Cup team of 1991. The team also featured players of the calibre of Willie Fitzpatrick, Danny McNulty and Brian Scully that excelled for the first team over a number of years. That team had players that were brilliant throughout that season such as Brian Murphy, Evan Fennell, Padraig Gorman, Bernard Bracken, Leo Timmons and the goal machine Liam Doran- who is a brother of current U13 manager Andy Doran and uncle of player Aaron Doran.
This side were beaten 2-1 away to Cork’s Avondale United in the SFAI Cup Quarter Final after a thrilling game that went to extra time and produced an injury time winner.