By John Shirley
Carlow have extended their lead in Division 2a of the Leinster League with a big away win on Sunday over bottom of the table Portarlington. With three games remaining Carlow now have a 4 point buffer over second placed Railway Union.
The 56 point to 8 scoreline hardly reflected the game in Portarlington where the home side put in a spirited performance and had plenty of possession and territory but didn’t convert it into scores. Carlow, on the other hand were clinical, especially in the red zone, scoring a total of eight tries.
Also the Carlow kicker, fullback Rob Browne was immaculate, scoring seven conversions out of 7, including some kicks from out wide. Wes Shirley completed the 8th conversion with his drop kick in front of the posts.
Carlow’s first try came in the ninth minute. From a scrum under the Port posts, centre Simon Walshe took a good line and broke a tackle for his try. On 15 minutes Carlow failed to clear and were penalised under their own posts. Portarlington centre Stephen Mulhall slotted the penalty to make it 3 – 7.
Walsh had another strong run on 30 minutes but was stopped on the line. The recycled ball was swung wide where hooker Evan Gordan was waiting to run in. For the third try Seamus Curran came off his wing, took an offload from outhalf John Whyte and glided through under the posts while the Portarlington centre Mulhall was in the sinbin.
Ross Elmes, scored the fourth (bonus) try on the cusp of half time after making yet another of his trademark breaks. At the interval the visitors led 28 – 3.
Carlow’s two lanky second rows combined in the 1st try of the second half. Michael Mannion made 40 metres on the right before being tackled short of the line. The ball was recycled to the left where Wes Shirley broke through the home defence.
This was followed by the Offaly side having their best spell of the game. They scored one try when number 8 James Brennan got though in the corner and nearly scored a couple more.
In the last quarter the visitors brought on fresh legs in the names of Joe Gorman, Thomas Whitney, David Barron, and Ross Byrne. This proved too much for the tiring young Portarlington side who leaked three late tries. Two of the subs Gorman and Barron, got their names on tries and also Rob Browne got a try to add to his seven conversions.
Next week Carlow travel to Gorey to play in the first round of the 2018 Towns Cup. With a home venue and sitting two divisions above Carlow in the Leinster League, the odds are very much for a Gorey win. Carlow’s will be hoping that their strong pack will match their Wexford opponents and that Lady Luck will be on their side.
Rob Browne, Seamus Curran, Fionnan Burke, Simon Walshe, Johnny Murphy, John Whyte, Jeff McDermott, Larry McGrath, (Capt) Evan Gordon, Timmy O Donoghue Michael Mannion, Wes Shirley. Niall Bermingham, James Nolan, Ross Elmes
Subs Joe Gorman, Ross Byrne, Thomas Whitney Harry Hennessey, David Barron, John Lyons,
Conor Malone, Simon Dugget, Stephen Mulhall, Dillon Maher, Anaval Storey, Cormac O Hara, Ben Frey, John Tobin, Aaron Ryan, Fintan Murphy, Brendan Meagher, Keelan Hunt, Stephen Oakley, Diarmuid Kelly, Richard Dowling, James Brennan.
James Connolly, Owen O Hara, Sean Higgins, Conor Houlihan.