Dundalk travelled to Tullamore for the final league match of the season but came back empty handed as Tullamore inflicted a 35-12 defeat on the Mill Road side.
Having already secured second place, this is Dundalk’s highest finish since the mid 1990s.
Next up is a Town’s Cup match against Cill Dara at home this Sunday, and it was obvious Dundalk had their minds on this match from the off.
Tullamore who suffered a hiding at the hands of dundalks cup opposition last weekend started with a strong wind behind them and it wasn’t long before they made it count.
They crossed over in the left corner after sustained pressure. They added a penalty a few minutes later, fullback McGee should’ve cleared his lines but having taken contact greg Whately was penalised for going off his feet at the ruck.
Tullamore got their second through their big ball carrying number eight who got over the line after a few phases.
It wasn’t until the second quarter of the game that Dundalk got some possession and they made it count straight away.
Off quick ball player coach ene Fa’atau made the initial break and he off loaded to out half Dodd. Dodd carried into the 22 to draw the last man and play Darren guest on his outside to score.
The conversion made it 15-7 and the visitors were back in with a shout.
However Tullamore were determined to finish their league campaign with a win and went in search of another score before half time.
They had Dundalk under serious pressure in the scrum which gave their number eight and scrum half a perfect platform to control the game. They duly scored their third in the right wing after poor tackling.
Dundalk had an opportunity with a penalty when Tullamore had a man sin binned on the stroke of half time but the chance went a begging into the wind.
With the advantage of that wind Dundalk were confident they could overturn the 13 point deficit. It was not to be as the home side were more aggressive and determined than their visitors and this was reflected on the scoreboard.
They got the bonus point try midway through the half.
Off a five metre scrum Dundalk held firm. But after controlling the ball for a number of phases they created the space in the right corner for their winger to jink and squeeze his way over.
But the visitors responded. Having won a penalty Dundalk elected to kick to touch.
A couple of line outs in the oppositions 22 had already gone astray but this time it worked. Naylor hit his mark in Paul Meegan who tapped down to the on rushing Fa’atau who sidestepped his way over from five metres.
This was as good as it got for Dundalk. Tullamore responded and their scrum half put in a chip over the defence which had McGee in trouble, he tried to clear it from the deadball area but it went straight into the hands of a tullamore player.
Gareth Lynch was left with little choice but to concede the penalty for offside and tullamore were awarded a scrum 5 metres out.
The home pack subsequently marched the Dundalk forwards over the line for their number 8 to grab his second.
Dundalk had no option but to attack from deep. Fa’atau caught a clearing kick and played McGee in field. He in turn found Scully on his outside.
He set off but even with a man free on his outside he cut back inside.
He lost the ball in contact and the tullamore scrum half kicked over to the far side for their winger to collect and flatter the home side with another try to leave the final score at 35-12.
So the league finished badly but on reflection ten wins from 14 games is a pretty good return.
However physicality both in attack and defence will need to increase significantly if Dundalk do not want their season to end this coming Sunday.
In the Town’s Cup Second Round Dundalk welcome Cill Dara who are hurting after relegation to Division 1B following the weekend’s results. Kick off is at 3pm.
q Dundalk’s Under-19s went down to Instonians 18-10 in Portadown’s Floodlight Nuttycrust sponsored competition last Wednesday.
It was played in horrendous conditions but both sides battled bravely.
Scrum half Padraig Conroy scored the try after the hard yards from the forwards. Out half ultan Murphy slotted the conversion and a penalty.
Full match report, photos and video highlights are available on intouchrugby.com Dundalk Under-19s play their second round cup match against Tullamore as a curtain raiser to the senior side this Sunday. Kick off 1.30pm.
Arch rivals to Dundalk, Boyne captured the league title, beating Dundalk by 18 points in the end after won 13 games and lost only once compared to Dundalk who lost four times in the campaign.
The final league table for the Leinster Division 1A looks as follows: