RUGBY | Ardee hold on to end Dundalk 2nds’ cup hopes
Jenkinson Cup semi-final | Ardee 22–17 Dundalk RFC 2nds
Dundalk RFC 2nds left it too little, too late to overcome a well organised Ardee side on Good Friday, going down 22–17 in the Jenkinson Cup semi-final at Townparks.
After both making an exit from the Leinster J2 Cup recently, both sides went out with a point to prove in what was a rare meeting between the clubs due to their participation in different leagues.
Dundalk put Ardee under pressure right from the off and there was less than a minute played when they charged down an Ardee kick but the hosts managed to keep possession and looked the more comfortable team with the ball.
Brian Byrne’s side were soon on the back foot with Ardee playing a number of fast phases that created an overlap and led to a disallowed try from Conor Hennessy because of a forward pass; a let off for Dundalk.
Knowing they were in for a tough night fighting for the ball, the Dundalk forwards worked hard although Ardee hooker Ciaran McCormack dealt well with the Mill Road side’s efforts at trying to put his lineout under pressure.
Ardee opened the scoring after running a number of phases through their pack inside the Dundalk 22 and the ball was spread by McCormack to full back Hennessey — a son of former Dundalk lock John — to score. The try was converted by Ben O’Brien to put Ardee 7–0 up inside the opening 20 minutes.
Again, Dundalk had difficulty holding onto the ball and they were soon on the back foot again inside their own 22. Ben O’Brien managed to spread the ball to Cathal Bradley and he found a gap to score under the posts.
Ardee kept their foot on the accelerator and Bradley went over for his second try of the evening with O’Brien converting to make it 19–0 with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
Dundalk needed a quick response and they got it by winning a lineout comfortably. A maul followed and hooker Sean Arrowsmith was stopped short only for John Kerr to arrive in support and cross over to make it 19–5 at the break.
The second-half started with most of the play taking place in the middle of the pitch as both teams fought for possession.
Dundalk tried to cut the gap between the teams to within two scores but missed a long range penalty which fell short. This led to another Ardee counter attack with was stopped short of the try line.
After a number of high tackles, Ardee were finally punished when Kevin McKeown was yellow carded and Dundalk took advantage as Robbie Williams broke through to score. Darragh Conroy converted to leave just one score in it, 19–12 with 20 minutes left to play.
Dundalk continued to chase the game but their decision making let them down and Ardee broke from a loose ball, resulting in a penalty which O’Brien kicked through the posts to extend the Deesiders’ lead to eight points.
The visitors refused to give up and ran a number of successful phases which ended in a penalty just inside the Ardee 22. Laurence Steen took a quick tap to score and leave just five in it as the game ticked into injury time but it wasn’t enough as Ardee held on to book their place in the decider.
This was the final match of the campaign for Dundalk 2nds who finished third in the Leinster 1A 2nds League. Co-captains Robin McGee and Christopher McGeady would like to thank coaches Barry Durnin and Declan McCabe for their efforts as well as team manager Brian Byrne.
Dundalk would like to wish their neighbours the best of luck in their Jenkinson Cup final against Balbriggan. Ardee owe Balbriggan one after their narrow defeat to the north Dublin outfit in the recent Leinster J2 Cup quarter final.
DUNDALK RFC 2NDS: John Kerr, Sean Arrowsmith, Zac Bolton, Diarmuid Sloan, Robin McGee, Greg Whatley, Mark Pepper, Tiernan Gonnelly, Sam Mulligan, Darragh Conroy, Matt Lourdes, Andrew Williams, Laurence Steen, Robert Williams, Paddy Duffy. Subs: Conor Williams, John McGahon, Ciaran Lennon, Craig Colgan, Danny O’Hagan.