A narrow win as the scoreline suggests and the result was in the balance right up to the final whistle. Both sides were short some regulars with injuries but they provided the big crowd in Spollenstown with an entertaining game.
For a change the home side got off to the better start with Adrian Hanley breaking from the back of a lineout to score the opening try after twelve minutes, which Gearoid O'Grady converted. The next 20 minutes were scoreless until Gearoid converted a penalty. The wheels came off for Tullamore in the next 10 minutes when they conceded two converted tries. Firstly a lineout was lost 10 metres out and Portlaoise took full advantage and scored a converted try. A mix-up between two defenders allowed Portlaoise to gain a foothold in the home side's 22 and following two quick rucks they scored again. On the stroke of half-time, Gearoid got Tullamore back in the game with his third successful kick to leave the half-time score at 13-20.
Tullamore kept Portlaoise scoreless in the second half with a much improved defensive performance, and cutting out the mistakes that gave possession away in the first period. Gearoid's first long range kick at goal in the second half struck the post and went wide but he made amends 10 minutes later. The decisive score came midway through the half when following a lineout and a driving maul Cathal Feighery, who had a tremendous game in the loose, scored a try. Gearoid kicked the conversion to put the home side three points ahead. The defence stood firm for remainder of the match and confined the visitors to one long range but unsuccessful drop goal attempt.
The loss of Richie Hughes to injury after 10 minutes was a big blow to a backline already short three regulars but replacement Ivan Dunne rolled back the years to give a great display. He had already played earlier for the Seconds. Sean Brady, his partner in the centre, also had a great game and both Adrian Hanley and Cathal Feighery were outstanding up front.
TEAM: 15. Richie Hughes, 14. Mark Whelan, 13. Rory Deverell, 12. Sean Brady, 11. Niall Geraghty, 10. Gearoid O'Grady (capt), 9. Ray Farrell, 1.Eddie Brady, 2. Cathal Feighery, 3. Alvin Bracken, 4. Ivor Deverell, 5.Brian Geraghty, 6.Colin Finnerty, 7. David Milne, 8. Adrian Hanley. Replacements used: Donal Milne, Andy Melville, Ivan Dunne, Rob Connor.
Leinster U-21 Gale League Cup
Tullamore 21 Wanderers 17
At half-time, most supporters thought that this would be an easy victory as the home side lead 21-9 and were well on top. A combination of taking the foot off the peddle and a spirited fight back by Wanderers left the home supporters with an anxious last 10 minutes. Tullamore failed to score in this second half. Tries by Mick Brasil, Danny Madden and Brian Geraghty all converted by Simon Hensey were the highlights of the first half when Tullamore conceded six kickable penalties but only three were converted. Wanderers kicked a penalty and scored a try in the second half but missed the conversion and a penalty that could have changed the result.
This game will have done the home side a lot of good and they should thank their front row of Molloy, Browne and Cronin who totally dominated the opposition. Manager Tom Moloney, coaches John Egan and Andy Smith will have plenty of areas of the game to work on at training, but this side shows real potential for the season ahead.
TEAM: 15. Alan Rassoul, 14. Danny Madden, 13. Daryl Kilroe, 12.Chris Gethings, 11.Fearghal Leonard, 10. Mick Brasil, 9. Simon Hensey, 1. Ger Molloy, 2.Kevin Browne, 3.Daniel Cronin, 4. David Molyneux, 5.Fearghal Kerin, 6.Cormac Moloney, 7.Noel Graham, 8.Paul McNiff. Replacements used: Brian Geraghty, Mark Kennedy, Nick Berry, Barry Matthews, Daryl Daly.
Leinster Seconds League Div 1: Tullamore 16 Portlaoise 13.
Thirds Leinster League: Portlaoise 29 Tullamore 17.
U-17 Leinster Premier League: Tullamore 17 Barnhall 21.
U-13 Friendly: Tullamore 12 Portlaoise 10.
Saturday: Leinster League Div 1A Dundalk v Tullamore at 3pm; Leinster Seconds League Div 1A Dundalk v Tullamore at 3pm.
AIB All-Ireland Junior Cup was drawn last Saturday night in Spollenstown. The President of the IRFU John Callaghan attended and the local AIB was represented by Manager Bob Connolly. The holders Tullamore are away to Coleraine on Saturday 31st October. Coleraine are located 40 miles north of Belfast near the Giants Causeway.