Boyne earn play-off on dramatic final day
AFTER recent exits for both Dundalk 2nds and Ardee in the Leinster J2 Cup, both teams went out with a point to prove under the Friday night lights at Townparks.
Unfortunately from Dundalk’s point of view, they left it too little too late to overcome a well-organised Ardee side who duly won through to the Jenkinson Cup Final.
With both teams looking to keep alive their hopes of silverware this season, it was also an exciting encounter considering the local rivalry.
Despite the short distance separating the two clubs, meetings between them have become a rarity over recent seasons as both are playing in different Leinster leagues.
Within the first minute Dundalk put Ardee under pressure with a charged-down kick in their half, but Ardee managed to keep possession and looked the more comfortable team with the ball.
Dundalk were soon on the back foot, with Ardee playing a number of fast phases and created an overlap, resulting in a try which was disallowed because of a forward pass - a let-off for Dundalk.
The Dundalk forwards worked hard, knowing they were in for a tough outing.
Although it was a successful night for the pack on their own set pieces, the Ardee hooker dealt well with Dundalk trying to put their lineout under pressure.
Dundalk conceded their first try after Ardee ran a number of phases through their pack inside the Dundalk 22 and the ball was spread to their full back Conor Hennessey (son of former Dundalk lock John) to score inside the 20-minute mark. Again, Dundalk had difficulty holding onto the ball and were soon defending inside their own 22 once more, from where the ball was spread to Ardee’s first centre who found a gap and scored under the posts.
Being two scores down, Dundalk ran a number of good phases, and winning their own lineout inside the Ardee 22 led to running another phase, but they lost the ball and Ardee’s fast backline duly ran the ball as far as the Dundalk 22.
The hosts kept up their fast phases and spread the play for their first centre to score again.
Dundalk knew that 19-0 down to Ardee inside the first half-hour was simply not good enough as their continuity play was letting them down.
They reacted by playing the ball down into the Ardee half and winning their lineout comfortably.
This led to a maul and although hooker Sean Arrowsmith was stopped short, John Kerr was there to support and cross over the line.
By half-time Dundalk knew that it was all to play for at 19-5 down as they nearly got over for a breakaway try just before the break.
There was also big room for improvement and Ardee weren’t going to hold back as they lost a 21-0 lead in their previous outing.
The second half started with most of the play in the middle of the pitch, with both teams fighting for possession. Dundalk tried to cut the gap between the teams to within two scores but missed a long-range penalty which was short. This led to another Ardee counter attack which was stopped short of the try line.
After a number of high tackles in the match, Ardee were finally punished with a yellow card, from which Dundalk took advantage for Robbie Williams to score. Darragh Conroy converted to get the deficit down to one score - 19-12 with 20 minutes left.
Dundalk were still chasing the game with 10 minutes left, but their general decision-making let them down and Ardee picked a loose ball and won a penalty in front of the posts to extend their lead to eight, with an unfortunate Dundalk sin-binning rubbing salt in the wounds.
The visitors didn’t give up and they ran a number of successful phases which led to a penalty inside the Ardee 22, from which Laurence Steen took a quick tap to score.
Despite the try being in injury time, the game wasn’t over and Dundalk received the kick-off and continued to run the ball - ultimately to no avail. That was the last match of the season for Dundalk 2nds who finished third in the Leinster 1A Seconds League.
Their co captains Robin McGee and Christopher McGeady would like to thank coaches Barry Durnin and Declan McCabe, while it was also another year to thank team manager Brian Byrne.
Dundalk would like to wish Ardee the best of luck in their Jenkinson cup Final against Balbriggan. Ardee owe Balbriggan revenge from their narrow defeat to them in the Leinster J2 quarter-final two weeks ago.