Dundalk U13s travelled to Mullingar and came away feeling robbed of what should have been their finest victory in the quarter-final of the Leinster McGowan cup.
Mullingar have not been beaten all season and took to the pitch with a swagger that suggested that the winning margin was the only thing to be decided but the Dundalk boys’ self belief and team spirit dictated otherwise.
Prop Jamie O’Hagan chased the kick-off and levelled the receiver, setting the tone and intensity that never abated until the final whistle which was suggested to have be blown four minutes early.
With 18 minutes gone, a desperate try saving tackle by Jamie Chong brought him to ground 15m from the Dundalk line but the Mullingar support arrived earlier and they scrambled over the line.
This galvanised Dundalk’s young guns and they set up camp in their opponents half and with one minute to halftime, the pressure paid off with Aaron Duffy peeling from a maul and sprinting to get over the line in the left corner to leave the score at the break 5–5.
The intensity level resumed in the second half but on four minutes, quick ruck ball on the 22 caught Dundalk unaware and they conceded a try under the posts.
Six minutes later a brilliant backline move saw the ball end up in the hands of Jamie Chong who beat two defenders on the outside before getting over in the right corner.
Three minutes later, Dundalk stole a Mullingar lineout ball and Duffy found a gap to get over in the left corner to give the visitors a 15- 12 lead but with just eight minutes remaining, Mullingar got over for a converted try giving them a 17–15 lead.
From the restart, Dundalk moved play up field, building on the phases and having sucked the Mullingar defence in, Duffy ran on to a pop pass from Jack Hughes to ground the ball under the posts and secure a man of the match hat-rick. Michael McDonald converted, giving Dundalk a 22-17 lead with minutes remaining.
From the restart, Dundalk were penalised continually for extremely technical and sometimes unfathomable rule breaches and this facilitated Mullingar to progress within 5m of the Dundalk line where a scrum was awarded.
Captain Calum Murray marshalled his troops for a herculean effort and this resulted in Dundalk winning against the head but another infringement was spotted by the ref and the scrum was ordered to be reset.
The ball then popped out the tunnel where Mullingar were afforded another put in. Again the ball popped out of the tunnel and yet another put in. Again, the ball popped out and a penalty was awarded against Dundalk for some perceived infringement.
Mullingar spread it wide before getting over the line to draw level but the conversion gave them the victory and the whistle went for full time which puzzled the onlookers as they assumed their watches had collectively stopped.
DUNDALK RFC U13: Charlie Donnelly, Patrick Bermingham, Andrew Dorian, Karl McMenamin, Jamie Chong, Michael McDonald, Jack Hughes, Andrew McDonald, Aaron Duffy, Tom Bell, Eoin McMahon, Calum Murray, Jamie O’Hagan, Fergal Malone, Conor McGarrity, Fergal Malone, Ben Verling, Ciaran Donnelly, Martin Vorster, Tadgh Leahy.
Dundalk U7s round off season in style
Dundalk U7s completed their season with the final blitz of the year when they travelled to Ratoath on Sunday morning. A strong squad of 16 players travelled which in turn comprised of two teams. Ashbourne, Balbriggan, Boyne and Ratoath themselves were the opponents on this occasion.
Each of the Dundalk teams played in four games each. Dundalk A drew their first match but then proceeded to win all their remaining games. Dundalk B finished with a very credible record of two wins, one draw and a solitary loss.
Congratulations to all the players who not only performed very well on Sunday but throughout the entire year. The improvement and development of the squad over the course of the year has been remarkable.
Training will continue on Saturday morning at 10.30am for two more weeks.
Dundalk A: Liam O Connor, Donal Lavery, Ewan Kelly, Michael Carroll, Oisin McKeown, Tom Cunniffe, Jake Kenny, Ciaran Leyden.
Dundalk B: DD Reilly, Luke O Connell, Oisin Nash, Max Valentine, Adam McCoy, Rory Wallace, Daniel Cartwright, William Connyngham.