ASHBOURNE made a disappointing start to this year's Division 1B league campaign with this defeat last Friday evening at Sydney Parade.
This former AIL side have been on the slide for a number of seasons and were relegated from Division 1A last spring, but they still proved too strong for their visitors from the south Meath/north Dublin border. Ashbourne's first team have undergone major changes since last season, but this loss can only be attributed to a poor performance as the talent is still there. They need to turn it around for the visit of Wicklow next weekend or it could be a long season.
The away side kicked off, but perhaps the writing was on the wall immediately as out half Marcus Speck put the ball straight into touch. From the ensuing scrum Ashbourne showed their dominance in that facet of play, with Behan, O'Connor and Roche setting a marker for the rest of the game. In fairness the set pieces for Ashbourne were solid for the whole game and though the lineout faltered initially the introduction of James Rooney improved this set piece and disrupted the home side. Speck did make amends for his early error by kicking two out of three penalty attempts to give Ashbourne a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes. The youngster showed some nice touches and with Quinn at 9 the ball was moved quickly and efficiently.
However, Monkstown were starting to settle down and seemed to grow stronger and stronger at the breakdown. They tackled well, started pressurising the visitors and after missing a relatively easy penalty they flooded a ruck and appeared through the middle of the pile to find that the cover was not there and scored a soft try. The Monkstown number 10 had a very accurate boot, and with Ashbourne conceding far too many penalties it was that weakness which proved to be their Achilles' heel.
The home side converted three penalties in all and were also successful with a drop goal, while Ashbourne stuttered and never really got going. Joe Taylor and Saulea Laurentiu had some good breaks on the wings but did not see enough of the ball, and although Monkstown never really threatened the Ashbourne line the damage was done by the boot of their out half. ASHBOURNE: Dermot Colreavy; Saulea Laurentiu, Dave Stewart, Casey Dunne, Joe Taylor; Marcus Speck, Leo Quinn; Mark Behan, Cathal O'Connor, Ciaran Roche; Eugene Gallagher, Adrian Buckley; Oisin Kilgallon, Ken Bolster, Rory Gleeson. Reps: Ciaran Boylan, JP Ennis, Mark Rooney, James Rooney, Collie Randle.