TULLOW 28 PORTLAOISE 13
FESTIVE hats were visible all round at the Blackgates as Tullow's firsts, seconds and u-17's all got the better of Portlaoise on Saturday. With the club's Christmas party ready to go by the time the third game was over, perhaps it was the longing for those celebrations that drove the Tullow effort on and a triple win for their efforts.
The main event saw the firsts get off to a perfect start. The cold had the Portlaoise defence frozen stiff and they couldn't deal with the early pace of Willie 'Cas' O'brien who dropped to goal from way out after only two minutes.
It completely rocked the Laois outfit and from the restart Tullow stepped on the gas when Stephen Smith and Rob Porter combined beautifully to see John Hanbidge complete the 5, 6, 7 move for the opening try.
Willie Cas converted and with that the hoops relaxed and were sloppy to give away two penalties which scrum half Conor Maguire booted over for the visitors.
Sean Mccarthy was then punished with a yellow card for what was judged to have been a dangerous tackle, although some members of the crowd felt strongly otherwise.
With Willie 'Hollow' O'brien Louis Kilcoyne and Sam Corrigan leading the pack and being assisted by Frank Murphy their captain, Tullow began to gain some momentum. A hard won penalty was knocked wide by Willie Cas. The out half made up for it when he converted Philip Timmins' try two minutes from the break after Willie Hollow had supplied the pass. It was 17-6 at the half time but neither team took too long a break and the only reason for that is the cold. It was freezing.
Tullow went off the boil completely in the third period. Some good Portlaoise pressure early in the second half saw the home side camped in their own half.
With 56 minutes played the visitors were close to the Tullow line after being held up and stopped at the death by Peter Fitzgerald but they eventually went over through Mark Sherlock and Maguire converted. Tullow responded through another Willie Cas penalty and to be fair the brother of Sean was behind most of Tullows positivity.
For the remainder of the half Tullow had to withstand more pressure but it was all needless and self inflicted with some poor decision making all over the field. Willie Cas was then handed the responsibility to kick a penalty from an awkward angle to really take the sting out of the final minutes, he thumped it between the sticks to great applause from the home side.
Deep into injury time two things happened, as Tullow drove for the line Portlaoise conceded a ridiculous penalty, Willie Cas cross fielded it before anyone knew what was happening and Peter Fitzgerald touched down with ease to completely finish off Portlaoise at 28-13. To add insult to injury John Kingsley was given a straight red card for dissent to referee Danny Fagan.
It was a sour way for the game to end but it will do a Portlaoise side with little respect the world of good.
James Sheerin, Peter Lawrence, Peter Fitzgerald, Philip Timmins, Conor Lawlor, William "Cas" O'brien, Sean Mccarthy, Kyle Hanbidge, Sam Corrigan, Louis Kilcoyne, Frank Murphy, John Hanbidge, Stephen Smith, Robert Porter, William "Hollow" O'brien, SUBS: Alan Burns, Dave Lawrence, Eoin O'toole, Colm Nolan, Dylan Thomas
John Scully, Gavin Thompson, Cillian O'connor, David Mccarthy, Mark Delaney, John Kingsley, Conor Maguire, Eanna, Delaney, Richard Bond, Shane Reilly, William Sherlock, Mark Sherlock, Nick Hyland, Kevin Griffen, Joe Fleming. SUBS: Richard Gee, Michael Fennelly, Michael Burke, Harry Lawlor, Donal Miller
VENUE: Blackgates REFEREE: Danny Fagan