Dundalk U17s’ unbeaten run in the Leinster League continued with another impressive display at Mill Road against a big physical Edenderry side on Sunday.
The game was played in heavy underfoot conditions after the downpours of the previous couple of days however this did not stop Dundalk playing an expansive game of rugby that they have been working hard at in training.
While there is much work to be done there is no doubt that this group of players are heading in the right direction. There is a lovely balance of physicality and mobility in the pack with a back-row trio of Carrick men Callum Murray, Aaron Duffy and Dunleer man Andrew Dorian proving to be hugely effective all over the pitch while in the backs the handling and pace allied to the very physical nature of their play has opened up many scoring chances.
No one personifies this more than Louth Village man and county GAA player Stephen McCooey whose aggressive and pacey running combined with his bone crunching tackling were again a feature of this game.
The half back combination of captain Andrew Williams and Cooley man Feargal Malone is both skilful and physical and while they have much to work on, there are clear signs that this could be a very dominating pairing.
This match also saw the return of another Carrick man and Monaghan GAA player Karl McMenamin, following his recovery from a broken foot and while he had limited game time it was clear to see the impact he will have as the season progresses.
Although starting slowly and taking some wrong options, it was clear that when the speed of the ball from the breakdown was increased and the ball moved wide at pace there were scoring opportunities available for Dundalk.
Another feature of this game was the line out work and as the season progresses this will be an area that Dundalk will hope to launch a very aggressive attack from, both from the well structured maul and the possibilities it opens up for a very skilful back line.
In what was to be another sound defensive display, this being the third Leinster match in a row where Dundalk have held the opposition scoreless, the solid platform was to be rewarded with tries from McCooey, Aaron Duffy and Crossmaglen winger Dan McWall who is showing what a good finisher he is becoming with tries in consecutive games.
Dundalk’s next game is away to a very strong Portarlington side this Saturday. A victory here would ensure that Dundalk finish top of their group and therefore advance to the higher end of the division play-offs which is where they want to be playing their rugby.
It won’t be easy but this squad, many of whom have only advanced from U15 level this year, have shown that they have adapted very quickly to the faster and more physical challenge presented to them.
They have shown that with the right attitude and a concentration on their skill sets they can compete with the best. They look forward to the challenge.