Dundalk hoping to keep revival lit against Ashbourne
DUNDALK could inflict a massive blow to Ashbourne’s hopes of retaining the Leinster League Division 1A title - as well as putting themselves in the shake-up - if they can win the Louth v Meath clash at Mill Road on Saturday (3pm).
It’s very early days, of course, with only three out of 14 rounds completed, but a home win would consign the defending champions to a third straight defeat when they only lost three in their entire campaign last season.
Dundalk haven’t made any bold predictions about challenging for the title, but with the return of Johnny Williams to the first team and some useful additions during the summer they look to have a bit more potency in their back line.
That was certainly evident in their previous game - an impressive 42-17 success against Wicklow - and assistant coach MJ McKevitt feels exciting times could be around the corner if the club can carry that momentum into the upcoming games.
‘The league is going to be extremely tight this year, so this is a huge game for us,’ he agreed.
‘Things just clicked against Wicklow, but they’d had been building before that. Against
Gorey we didn’t play too well, but against Enniscorthy the scoreline didn’t really reflect the game.
‘In the Wicklow match we were very dangerous when we had the ball. Johnny Williams is commuting from London at the moment, but he’s moving back to the area in the next four to six weeks and he’s a huge addition.
‘And Paddy Reilly, the Louth footballer, has been a breath of fresh air on the wing. He hasn’t played rugby since 2015, but he got two great tries against Wicklow and we’ll be trying to get ball into his hands.’
McKevitt needed no reminding about Ashbourne who trailed by 20 points with 10 minutes remaining in this fixture last year before snatching a 33-32 victory with three late converted tries.
‘That was something we talked about later on in the season and it was something that haunted us,’ he recalled.
‘They’re the champions, and although they have a new team I hear on the grapevine that they’re trying to get up to senior rugby this year, having just missed out in the round robin last time.
‘They’ll be very strong, espe- cially with Simon Deevy back at 8 after playing football for the last while.
‘But it’s very early days. All the teams are capable of beating each other and I think the league won’t be won until Christmas or in January.’
Dundalk will operate with the same squad as for the Wicklow game and that means likely starts once again for former World Sevens player German Javier Herrera Luhrs, and also scrum half Sam Weber from New Zealand whose elder brother Brad has a full All Blacks cap to his name.