DUNDALK RFC started 2012 with the senior team sitting in a disappointing position in the lower half of Division 1A but they have rallied and managed to end the year on a more positive note.
Having been one of the foremost teams in Leinster for a number of years, with big victories including a prestigious Towns Cup victory and a runner-up finish in the League, they had begun to struggled somewhat as important senior players hung up their boots.
The new players taking over their jerseys were coming straight out of the youth rugby set-up and it was understandable that it would take a little time for them to adapt to the faster pace and greater physicality of their new surroundings.
Due to the reshaping of the squad, the objective for the club was to bed these fresh players into the senior structure, hold onto their current league status and make a real impact when the new season resumed in September.
This is exactly what they managed to achieve, holding onto their status as a Division 1A side when the season finished up in May.
Everyone slipped away for the wellearned summer break, secure in the knowledge that they had the wherewithal to mount a strong challenge in the 2012/13 season and challenge for the top honours.
Pre-season training kicked off in mid June with fitness and conditioning being the main priorities for the six weeks prior to the first scheduled fixture.
The McGowan Cup was the curtainraiser for the campaign, prior to the full Leinster League restart the following month.
Dundalk won the competition, beating near local rivals Ashbourne in the final to lift the trophy and giving themselves a massive confidence boost ahead of the league. However, the victory was soured somewhat with the news that influential captain, Paul Meegan, would be out of the game for six months or so after picking up a serious knee injury during the tournament.
Vice-captain Thomas Campbell, known as TC, stepped into his role and led the team into the Leinster League proper.
With coach Ene Fa'atau still playing an important role on the pitch, as well as on the sidelines, the panel was further strengthened with the arrival of his cousin, Ata Fa'atau, to play in the centre and they got off the mark with a win, beating Cill Dara away in a close encounter.
The younger players from the previous season's youth side had by now really found their feet as seniors and were showing no fear against some well-seasoned opposition players.
The months of September through to Christmas saw the senior side take scalps off more fancied sides such as second-placed Coolmine as well as a 6215 thrashing of Garda on the road.
Although there were one or two frustrating losses along the way, the Christmas break sees them sitting comfortably in the upper ranks of their division.
An title win may be a little optimistic but a runner-up position is definitely achievable for the club going into the second half of the season with the Louth side sitting sixth in the standings, just three points off of second place.
Another successful run in the Towns Cup is not beyond probability and could see the trophy cabinet be well-stocked once more come May.
The blend of youth and experience is working out very well at the moment and points to an optimistic future for Dundalk.