Dundalk U9’s continued their outstanding recent form, this time punching above their weight against the U10’s of near neighbours Ardee.
It was a beautiful, crisp February morning at Mill Road on Sunday and the Sharks knew they would have to stand up and be counted against an Ardee side a year older and physically stronger.
Dundalk fielded three equal teams, The Black Sharks, the White Sharks and the Silver Sharks, who each faced Ardee, with the Black Sharks lining up first.
It was tough going in the early stages for the Black Sharks, finding the physical presence of the older Ardee boys tough to handle, and Ardee duly took the lead after some strong resistance from the home was not enough to keep the visitors at bay.
The Dundalk boys rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in with some excellent forward play resulting in a superb break and try from Ciaran Tiernan.
Ardee capitalised on some slack defending shortly after the restart to retake the lead, however the home side were now wrestling control of the match, and a superb try from Kieran McArdle levelled the match going into half time.
The home side had by now more than adjusted to the physical early threat of the Deesiders and were actually winning the physical battles in most areas of the pitch.
This dominance told in the second half with two more tries each from Kieran McArdle and Aaron McGuinness Smith and a solitary reply from Ardee, meaning the home side defied the odds and beat the older away side comfortably by six tries to three.
Superb performances from the Black Sharks, with Luke Clarke, Robert Malone, Ronan McDonnell and Fiachra O’Gorman but a few worthy of a mention in a sterling effort.
Enter the White Sharks who, buoyed by the heroics of the Black Sharks in Game One, were determined to put in a good showing.
Like the first match, the White Sharks found the enhanced physicality of the older team tough to come to terms with in the early stages, going behind 1-0 and 2-1 before levelling at 2-2, both tries coming from the lightning quick James O’Connor.
This inspired the White Sharks who began to assert their authority on the match with three unanswered tries from Jack Gilmore, Luke Andrews and Lorcan Ticehurst stunning the away side.
To their credit Ardee regrouped and responded valiantly with a good try of their own, reducing the home side’s advantage to 5-3.
That proved to be little more than a consolation however, with James O’Connor having the final say and finishing what he started, completing his hat trick and a final score in game of six tries to three in favour of the White Sharks.
A great performance all round with Joseph Pheifer, Milo Moore an Laurence Jones singled out by coach Hugh as having had a good game.
It was over to the Silver Sharks for the final game of the day and they were determined to make it a clean sweep.
Similarly, Ardee had put in a great effort and had been largely unrewarded and were determined not to go down without a fight.
It duly turned out exactly as expected with both sides fighting to the death in a very close encounter, the Sliver Sharks eventually completing the whitewash for Dundalk by the odd try in 11.
The result was in the balance until the final whistle with the balance of play shifting to and fro, until referee Stuart Jones finally blew the whistle with the hosts scraping home, 6-5.
It was a great performance by the home side but slightly harsh on a committed away side who never stopped competing right to the end.
Among the try scorers were Alex Gregory, Sam Malone and Conal O’Callaghan and coach Paul saying all the boys put in fantastic performances including Peter Rice, Aaron McEvoy and Brian McCahill.