Dundalk edge out Kildare to keep perfect start intact
DUNDALK narrowly kept their 100 per cent start to the campaign instact with this nail-biting win over Cill Dara at Mill Road on Saturday.
Ene Fa'atau's squad was full of confidence after two impressive wins over Newbridge and Enniscorthy, while Cill Dara came to town looking to bounce back from their defeat to Tullow.
Again it was a perfect day for running rugby and it was hard to believe it was an October afternoon. Dundalk, like previous games, started off very strongly and were able to build their phases and put Cill Dara under pressure.
Dundalk's lineout and scrum was firing well, giving the team plenty of possession. But the level of opposition had increased dramatically from previous weeks and Cill Dara brought a huge pack and a very well organised defence.
Time and time again Cill Dara turned over possession and their out half, with his well educated left boot, was able to relieve pressure for the Kildare men.
Cill Dara scored the first points of the match when they were awarded a penalty on their first visit to the Dundalk half and their fullback slotted it over.
This was to be story of the first half as Dundalk played the majority of the rugby but lacked discipline and the cutting edge to break down the opposition's defence.
A couple of penalties offered Ultan Murphy the chace to open his team's account but he was unable to capitalise.
Again more ill-discipline allowed Cill Dara to keep the scoreboard ticking over with two further penalties before Murphy found his range with a fine kick to leave the score 9-3 to the visitors at half time.
Dundalk found themselves in the unusual position of trailing at half-time for the first time this season. The young team needed to respond as they were in a right old dogfight, but respond they did.
The team came out firing after the break and they produced much quicker ball to disorganise the Kildare defence. The back-row of James McConnon, Brendan Hadden, Ene Fa'atau and substitute Kieran Brannigan were impressively carrying the ball and maintaining possession.
Eventually this pressure paid off and good work by Hadden and Mike Bentley led to Isaia Petelo making a fine break. Petelo then fed scrum-half Thomas Campbell who was in support to run in under the posts to score the try. Murphy converted to leave it 10-9 to Dundalk.
This seemed to give the Mill Road men some confidence and energy but Cill Dara came back fighting and again landed another penalty to go regain the lead, 12-10.
But Dundalk dug deep and played the majority of their rugby deep inside the Cill Dara half. They were awarded a penalty for their efforts and Murphy kicked an beauty to make it 13-12.
The drama wasn't quite over yet however, and with 30 seconds remaining Cill Dara were awarded a penalty just inside Dundalk's half and opted to have a pop at goal.
Fortunately for Dundalk it landed short and they sealed their third victory. Next up is another home league match against Clondalkin next Saturday.
DUNDALK: L. Shields, O. McNally, I. Petelo, J. Williams, R O'Hagan, U. Murphy, T. Campbell, E. Fa'atau, B. Hadden, J. McConnon, P. Meegan, M. Bentley, J. Smith, J. Gray, R. Farrell Subs: K. Brannigan, D. McGuinness, C O'Hanlon, S. Murphy, R. Shields.