Dundalk got their Provincial Towns Cup campaign off to a perfect start with a comprehensive 26-11 victory over a spirited Athy side in a wet and blustery Athy on Sunday afternoon.
From the kick off, it was clear to see Dundalk’s intent, coming off the back of three straight league losses. Their opening try of the game came when they made good yards down the middle with good work from MJ McKevitt and Isaia Petelo following a lineout.
The ball was switched down the blind with good interplay by the forwards which resulted in Mike Bentley making an excellent break before crashing his way over the line for a superb team try.
The try seemed to give the Dundalk side some belief and from the restart they went back about their business trying to play some high tempo rugby and were awarded a penalty on half way which Ultan Murphy, with the help of the wind, stroked over to make it 8-0 with about 20 minutes gone. Dundalk definitely had the upper hand but knew they would need a stronger lead going into the break. Despite this Dundalk continued to play and were awarded a penalty.
Thomas Campbell stood up withMurphy off the field to stroke it over from wide on the left to make it 11-0 as the home side were struggling to live with Dundalk’s tempo.
After a sustained period of pressure Dundalk were awarded a penalty under the posts which Campbell tapped quickly and found a gap to dart over the line Dundalk’s second try. Murphy added the extras to leave it 18-0. Athy did have the final say in the half with an easy kick in front of the posts which left the score 18-3 at half time.
The second half started with Dundalk the stronger. The scrums were solid all day with Robert Farrell, Johnny Gray and John Smith giving number eight Faatau a platform to gain strong yards all day off the back off the scrum.
Athy got their first try of the match when their pack set up a good maul and were able to drive their way over the line for the try which was unconverted to leave it 18-8.
Dundalk stayed calm and positive and responded immediately. Rory O’Hagan made a decisive break before offloading to McKevitt who showed some good soccer skills to kick ahead before regathering to score in the corner which was unconverted. The try seemed to finish off Athy and with 15 minutes remaining all both sides could muster was a penalty apiece to see the game finish out 26-11 to Dundalk.
There seems to be a buzz developing within the side and there is no questioning the strength of depth within the squad. Dundalk face Naas at home on February 16 in the second round.
dundalk: J Shields, O Mc Nally, I Petelo, MJ McKevitt, R O’Hagan, U Murphy, T Campbell, E Faatau, S Martin, J McConnon, C O’Hanlon, M Bentley, J Smith, J Gray, R Farrell. Subs: C Brannigan, G Whately, B Hadden, S Murphy, S McGee.