Mucklagh 1-4 PAFC
Portlaoise go through 6-4 on aggregate
Portlaoise made the Tuesday evening trip to Charleville Castle in Tullamore to face Mucklagh in the under fourteen boys Stokes Cup. Mucklagh lead the tie from the first leg, beating Portlaoise 3-2 in Rossleighan Park two weeks previously. Portlaoise knew they’d have to win by two clear goals or match Mucklagh’s away score to progress.
Portlaoise started very brightly winning the midfield battle and creating chances from the first minute. Cillian Friel came close but saw his cracker of a shot cannon off the crossbar. On ten minutes the deadlock was broken. A quick throw on the Portlaoise right found Martin Mc Donagh bombing down the line. He beat a defender before sending in a cross – shot from a tight angle which the keeper found too hot to handle. The bang in-form Harry Whalley was on hand to pounce finding the net from close range.
Portlaoise dominated the rest of the half creating good openings and playing some nice football on a very bumpy surface. They snuffed out all of Mucklagh’s long ball attempts until the dying seconds of the half. Portlaoise failed to clear their lines and were punished when Mucklagh hit the net to level the game at half time.
This could have been devastating to the away side but they kept their nerve, coming back out all guns blazing at the start of the second half. Relentless pressure on the Mucklagh defence resulted in a corner five minutes in. Robbie Farrell’s in swinging corner found Byron Mc Guirk eight yards out. He brilliantly stooped to head the ball home to give Portlaoise back the lead on the night. They knew it would take at least another goal to put the tie in their hands.
That came soon after as Cillian Friel finished superbly from just inside the box after excellent work from Robbie Farrell and Harry Whalley down the right wing. Portlaoise were in the ascendency and looking good value for their two goal lead.
Cillian Friel added a fourth with fifteen minutes to go to more or less put the game to bed. Portlaoise now knew Mucklagh had to score three to win the tie on aggregate.
The away defence were outstanding in the closing stages, nullifying every attack to see out the game. Portlaoise once again had a host of excellent performers on the night. Anto Brennan and Roady Dempsey were immense in defence while Oisin Bohan and Byron Mc Guirk got through a mountain of work in midfield. Man of the match goes to Cillian Friel who was a constant threat from start to finish and was unlucky not to claim a hat-trick for his endeavour. A well-deserved win for Portlaoise.
Portlaoise; Jack Pedro, Martin Mc Donagh, Kevin Plesea, Anto Brennan, Roady Dempsey, Oisin Bohan, Robbie Farrell, Byron Mc Guirk, Tobi Olaoye, Harry Whalley, Cillian Friel, Brian Brennan, David Mulhall, Charles Agha Cameron Carlisle, Conor Graham