Dundalk suf­fer late agony in Wick­low

The Argus - - SPORT -

DUNDALK player coach Mike Walls faces a bat­tle to re-en­er­gise his team for Sat­ur­day’s vi­tal Le­in­ster League clash in Ashbourne, af­ter they suf­fered the most heart­break­ing of de­feats last week­end.

Fac­ing one of the ti­tle con­tenders Wick­low, who have quickly es­tab­lished them­selves in the top flight fol­low­ing pro­mo­tion last spring, the away side looked to have snatched a cru­cial win when they were awarded a penalty try to take a 19-17 lead with the 80 min­utes al­most up.

The men from the Gar­den County had a man sin-binned fol­low­ing that in­ci­dent, but they dug deep and five min­utes into time added on they some­how breached the Dundalk de­fence and got over the white­wash for the de­ci­sive score.

Dundalk’s de­feat, their sev­enth of the sea­son in the league, does lit­tle to aid their fight against rel­e­ga­tion ahead of Sat­ur­day’s crunch game against Ashbourne, who are just above them in the ta­ble.

Cur­rently oc­cu­py­ing the rel­e­ga­tion play-off po­si­tion, Dundalk are des­per­ate to end a run of three de­feats on the bounce and they come up against an Ashbourne side who have yet to dis­cover the form that won them the league ti­tle last spring.

That said, they have qual­i­fied for the fi­nal of the All-Ire­land Ju­nior Cup where they will put their ti­tle on the line against En­nis­cor­thy at the end of this month.

It remains to be seen which Ashbourne will turn up at their Mill­town House grounds, and the same could be said of Dundalk who have been des­per­ately in­con­sis­tent this sea­son.

How­ever, there were pos­i­tives to take out from the per­for­mance in Wick­low and Walls, while ru­ing his team’s in­abil­ity to close out the game, feels a sim­i­lar dis­play over 80 min­utes could yield a pos­i­tive re­sult.

Wing Pa­trick Reilly was on kick­ing du­ties for Dundalk on the day and en­joyed a good out­ing, miss­ing just once. It was he who fired over a penalty in the early stages to give his team a 3-0 cush­ion.

With the set-piece per­form­ing up to scratch at usual, that should have given the vis­i­tors a plat­form to cause more prob­lems for Wick­low, but they were sloppy in open play at times and Wick­low went in front with a con­verted try be­fore Reilly made it a one-point game once more with his sec­ond suc­cess­ful kick.

Right on the stroke of half-time, though, Wick­low ex­tended their lead to eight points with their sec­ond con­verted try.

Per­haps the break suited Dun-

dalk more, for Reilly took ad­van­tage of Wick­low in­dis­ci­pline to kick two more penal­ties on the restart, only for the hosts to push the lead back to five with a three-pointer of their own.

The Louth men kept com­ing, though, and they seemed to have stolen a price­less win when the ref­eree ran un­der the posts to sig­nal a penalty try fol­low­ing an in­fringe­ment which saw a Wick­low player yel­low-carded.

With Dundalk hold­ing a 19-17 lead, they pre­pared for an on­slaught dur­ing in­jury time and they sur­vived one ma­jor scare when a Wick­low drop-goal at­tempt sailed wide of the tar­get.

The re­sul­tant 22 drop-out was booted down­field, but back Wick­low came and the 14 men some­how found a hole in the Dundalk de­fence to get over for the match-win­ning try.

DUNDALK: Sam Weber; Robert Wil­liams, Pa­trick Reilly, Derek Wil­liams, Lau­rence Steen; Jonathan Wil­liams, Mike Walls; Jonathan Gray, Stephen Ar­row­smith, Robert Far­rell; Greg Whately, Enda Mur­phy; Alistair McCormack, James McCon­non, Tier­nan Gon­nelly. Re­place­ments: John Smith, Ciarán Len­non, Niall Smullen, Conor Wil­liams, Ray McCabe.

Dundalk’s Pa­trick Reilly is stopped in his tracks dur­ing Sat­ur­day’s Le­in­ster League game in Wick­low.

Pic­ture: Paul Mes­sitt

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