AFTER a frustrating six-week lay-off Dundalk U-17s finally played a competitive game when they took on Ardee at home last Saturday in a clash that was evenly matched right up until the last 10 minutes.
Dundalk were on top for the first 15 minutes but fluffed their lines with a number of silly mistakes at crucial moments in attack. The breakthrough came in the 17th minute when some good work by the forwards to retain possession enabled outhalf Conor Lenehan to feed Ciaran Lennon who passed out to winger Taminiun Olaitan who scored the first of his three tries in the left corner.
Dundalk didn't deal with the restart well and Ardee gained possession. After five minutes of intense pressure and a few well worked phases, Ardee's Neil Reilly went over to level the match 5-5.
Dundalk responded straight away and after a knock-on from the restart, they won a scrum inside the Ardee 22.
The front row of Conor Quigley, Shane Callan and Andy Kerr were on top from the start and this enabled number eight Tadgh McElroy to break away from the back of the scrum.
He was stopped five yards from the line but quick reaction from Stephen McGivern and Glen Shields saw the ball recycled through a few phases to enable Tadgh McElroy to go over in the corner to leave Dundalk leading 10-5 after 27 minutes.
Again Dundalk dealt with the restart badly and they let Ardee's winger John Campbell in for a try which was converted to leave the score 12-10 at half time.
The second half was very much a repeat of the first with a wonderful solo effort by Conor Lenehan from 40 yards out matched with a try which was converted from Ardee's Irish Youths player Niel Reilly to leave the Deesiders leading 19-15.
Dundalk were forced into a number of changes with Ciaran Lennon and Glen Shields going off injuried to be replaced by Tom Gardiner and Jude Vaughan.
The next score was a second try from Tumininu scored in the left corner which was unbelievably converted by the left footed full back Stephen Bellew from the side line, making it 22-19 in Dundalk's favour.
The game opened up and Dundalk took full advantage of their strong bench taking on Niall Malone, Aaron Quinn and Stephen Arrowsmith for Barney McElroy, Alex Cahill and Ronan O'Reilly.
With Ardee having no subs the fresh legs made the difference with Dundalk scoring two tries in the last 15 minutes.
The first was the result of some very determined work by Andy Kerr who forced his was through an Ardee ruck picking up the ball and running for five yards before laying off to Stephen McGivern who made another ten yards before off-loading to Dylan Quigley who scored in the right corner to leave the score 27-19.
The last score was an unbelieveable score by Tamininu from 40 yards out when he seemed to go around half the Ardee team to plant the ball in his now favourite left corner.
Next up for Dundalk is a home match against Gorey in the quarter final of the Plate while Ardee go on to play Portlaoise in the quarter final of the Bowl.
Dundalk: Conor Quigley, Shane Callan, Andy Kerr, Evin Quigley, Dylan Quigley, Stephen McGivern, Glen Shields, Tadgh McElroy, Tamininu Olaitan, Ciaran Lennon, Ronan O'Reilly, Conor Lenehan, Alex Cahill, Aaron Quigley, Niall Malone, Barney McElroy, Stephen Arrowsmith, Stephen Bellew, Jude Vaughan, Tom Gardiner.