Dundalk Rugby Club U13s recorded a fantastic 7-5 win over North Kildare in the 2nd Round of the Leinster McGowan Cup last weekend.
The hosts came into the game as hot favourites; North Kildare currently lead the U13 Premier Division but Dundalk made the journey home a happy one thanks to a wonderful team performance.
Captain Aaron Duffy opted to play into a strong breeze and the intensity from Dundalk was evident from the start as winger Patrick Bermingham lifted the oncoming Kildare no 8 and drove him back five metres in a dump tackle in the first contact of the game.
North Kildare recycled possession and, using the breeze, kicked to touch in the left corner, five metres from the Dundalk line. Birthday boy, Eoin McMahon soared and played the ball off the top but it went loose and over the try line where North Kildare reacted first and pounced on it to go five points up after two minutes.
The remainder of the half saw play oscillate between the 22m lines as both teams sought to gain the ascendency but neither able make the elusive breakthrough.
Dundalk emerged in the second half with steely determination and they upped the intensity level to heights not witnessed previously in their fledgling careers.
The second half was essentially played entirely in the home team’s half with Dundalk dominating the set pieces.
The front row of Jamie O’Hagan, Sam McSherry and Frank Taaffe overpowered a very strong opposite front row and the second row of Callum Murray and Eoin McMahon soared like trapeze artists in securing their own line outs and stealing the oppositions.
The back row of Tom Bell, Aaron Duffy and Andrew McDonald drove into rucks like Russian T44 tanks defending Stalingrad, but the final touch kept denying Dundalk the elusive score.
The clock was ticking down and trailing by five points, the last six minutes of rugby played within their opponents 22 was the most frenetic ever witnessed by this writer.
Backline attack, after attack was followed by forwards maul, after maul but valiant defending somehow kept them at bay.
With 60 seconds remaining a scrum was awarded to Dundalk which the ref indicated would be the last play. Early strikes from North Kildare required three scrum resets but composure from Jack Hughes saw him get away a floating pass to Michael McDonald who offloaded to Karl McMenamin who made precious yards but was brought to ground by four defenders, three metres in front of the posts.
The arriving pack secured the ball where Andrew McDonald skirted the cover defence to score at the left corner flag.
This left the score 5–5 with the final kick of the game a conversion from the left touchline. Seasoned international players balk at such a task but Michael McDonald stepped up and with nerves of steel landed the conversion of the season, sending the assembled supporters into a frenzy of unbridled joy.
True character was unleashed from all who donned the Dundalk jersey as they march on to the quarter finals of the McGowan Cup.
DUNDALK U13: Charlie Donnelly, Patrick Bermingham, Andrew Dorian, Karl McMenamin, Jamie Chong, Michael McDonald, Jack Hughes, Andrew McDonald, Aaron Duffy, Tom Bell, Eoin McMahon, Callum Murray, Jamie O’Hagan, Sam McSherry, Frank Taaffe, Fergal Malone, Ciaran Donnelly, Turlach Campbell, Tadgh Leahy, Tiernan Duffy.