Ashbourne Recover Form in Style
An 8 try haul over local rivals Dundalk was an immediate return to form by Ashbourne after last week and a 53 point to 15 win was a positive statement. This bounce back after a lacklustre display at Enniscorthy is good preparation for the All Ireland Final in two weeks time. To crown the day off Ashbourne’s 2nd XV also had a comprehensive win running out winners by 40 points to 7 to maintain first place in their league.
Ashbourne played with a strong breeze in their backs in the first half and no doubt the instruction was to build a lead. Gavin Kennedy was back in the starting line up for the first time since last February and Colreavy was also added at 13, while Toolan started at fullback. McKeon, Meehan and Andrew Whittaker came into the pack and Deevy was back as well and the intention was to lay a marker for the All Ireland final. In the 3rd minute they had done so with Kennedy, Deevy and Toolan all combining for the fullback to score, after strong carries from Kent, Crotty and Hurley. Ashbourne were playing well and 8 minutes later they added their second try with Andy Whittaker taking an inside pass from Rooney on the Dundalk 10 meter line to power through the cover to score under the post. Kennedy converted and Ashbourne led by 12 points to nil.
Dundalk came to play and within 5 minutes they had scored their first try. It followed a period of sustained Dundalk pressure and a yellow card to Ashbournes winger Gibson for blocking down a pass. Dundalk went to the corner and powered over from the lineout for an unconverted try. But it was turning into a try fest when in the 19th minute Mark Rooney score the first of his two tries. Again soft tackling from Dundalk so Rooney run in the try from well outside the 22. Kennedy connverted to stretch the lead to 19 points to 5.
Ashbourne were not having it their own way and in the 24th minute Dundalk added their second try before Kennedy addedy 3 points to make the score 22 points to 10 heading into injury time. Dundalk though snatched another try before the whistle and at 22 points to 15 you felt that the lead would not be enough.
The second half turned out to be the best performance from the side all season scoring 31 unanswered points including 5 tries. The set piece was dominant and the tackling was top notch. Against the wind Ashbourne worked on ball retention and gave very little oppotunity for Dundalk to play. Across the side all the players stood up and played with great commitment and were awarded with the bonus point try after 10 minutes with great work from the pack saw Deevy drive home from close in. McKeon, Roche and Hurley were all carrying well.
Ashbourne were now in control of the game with Dundalk resistance fading as Ashbourne piled on the tries. Hurley was next up with his try in the 17th minute while Rooney added his second 10 minutes later. Kennedy converted both and was substituted for Bass shortly after. In fact the whole bench was used at his stage. Matt Connolly added his second try in 2 weeks in the 34th minute before Andy Whittaker notched up his second and the 8th try which Toolan converted. With a final score of 53 points to 15 Ashbourne can kick on with their preparations for the All Ireland final against Enniscorthy in Edenderry in 2 weeks time.
This victory also saw Ashbourne retain the McGowan Cup played in the North East area with Dundalk and Boyne being the other participants. Nice to have the first silverware in the cabinet.
1st XV Team:
Kelan Toolan, Andrew Gibson, Dermot Colreavy, Mark Rooney, Matt Connolly, Donal Crotty (Capt.), Gavin Kennedy, Mark Behan, Brendan Meehan, Ciaran Roche,Sean Kent, Sean McKeon, Conor Hurley, Justin Whittaker, Simon Deevy
Subs: Danny Norton, Frank Keegan, Andrew Whittaker, Shane Bass, Clive Donaldson
Tries: Kelan Toolan x 1, Andrew Whittaker x 2, Mark Rooney x 2, Simon Deevy x 1, Conor Hurley x 1, Matt Connolly x 1
Conversions: Gavin Kennedy x 5; Kelan Toolan x 1
Penalties: Gavin Kennedy x 1