Portarlington rise to occasion of three Donnybrook deciders
The decision to stage the Youths League finals in Donnybrook Stadium this year as been greeted with enthusiasm across the province.
The excitement of the build-up as buses are booked for players and supporters, the anticipation of playing in a stadium environment and the unity of a club as everyone comes together to celebrate the culmination of a season's hard work and commitment. . . these things are what make finals days so special.
One club that really embraced the occasion was Portarlington RFC. With three teams competing in finals and despite the fact that the games were played on three different days, there was a massive response from club members as Leinster HQ became their home from home for two weekends in April.
Preparation could not have been more professional with all teams provided with commemorative gear for the occasion, Easter training camps organised and minis players recruited to act as ball boys and water carriers.
The club's U-15s kicked proceedings off as they took on a strong North Meath side on April 3. Tries from Glen Hassett (two), Devlin McLaughlin and Nicholas Doggett and a Man of the Match performance from Ger Campbell saw the Port' side win an absolute belter of a game by 26-24.
The experience of being presented with medals and lifting the trophy in the stand, surrounded by family and friends will stay with these players forever!
The following Saturday saw a combined Portarlington / Cill Dara team arriving in D4 for a girls' U-18 final.
It was a nailbiter, but with the scores tied at 5-5 after 80 minutes the trophy was awarded to Ardee/Boyne under 'result on the day' rules.
Only 24 hours later the club was back once more as the U-18s boys took on Clane in another cracker.
With never more than a score between the sides it took a final kick from out half Jordan Fitzpatrick to seal a 30-27 win for Portarlington. Tries from Fitzpatrick (two), Cormac Curtis and John Tobin had built the platform and the wild celebrations that followed proved that playing these games in Donnybrook meant a lot to a club on the up.