IT'S a case of 'as you were' in Division 1B of the Leinster League after Ashbourne picked up a losing bonus point to remain second bottom of the table and in relegation danger.
Clondalkin have been a bogey team for the south Meath outfit in recent times and this was the first point they'd picked up there in four years, but it could have been so much better for Ashbourne who were without their two regular tight-head props. Alan Wall filled in at number 3 but was under pressure against a good home pack from the off, without a strong set piece a team struggles and that is the way the afternoon went. It all began promisingly when Rory Gleeson got over for a great try in the 15th minute following good work from Marcus Speck, Casey Dunne converted and Ashbourne were playing reasonably well. But five minutes later they let Clondalkin off the hook, conceding a soft try under the posts to leave the sides level at 7-7.
It was then all about the kickers and the one thing the home side have is a reliable and accurate place-kicker. By half-time he had notched up three penalties to stretch Clondalkin out to a 16-7 lead, although they never really threatened the Ashbourne try line. In the second half Ashbourne continued to play hard, but at times lacked penetration. Replacement Dave Stewart returned in the centre following an injury lay-off while James McCaghy was introduced in the pack, with both Wall and his replacement Ciaran Boylan leaving the field through injury. This meant uncontested scrums, which helped in negating the Clondalkin set piece.
Four minutes into the second half Dunne had a penalty opportunity, but he just shaved the upright at the wrong side. The ball was flowing well through Stewart in the centre and Speck's kicking out of hand was excellent, but there were no line breaks and Dunne's penalty in the 58th minute was cancelled out two minutes later to leave Clondalkin 19-10 ahead. Dunne had one final chance in the 74th minute and narrowed the gap to six points to enter bonus point territory, but poor option-taking, a lack of belief and poor discipline allowed this game to slip away. Next Sunday Ashbourne are at home to County Carlow, with the 2nds kicking off at 1pm and the first team at 2.30pm.
ASHBOURNE: Dermot Colreavy; Saulea Laurentiu, Casey Dunne, Joe Taylor; Marcus Speck, Leo Quinn; Alan Wall, Cathal O'Connor, Rory Gleeson; Darragh Curran, Adrian Buckley; Ken Bolster, James Rooney, Mark Rooney. Replacements: Eddie Conaty, James McCaghy, Ciaran Boylan, Eugene Gallagher, Dave Stewart. -Ashbourne 2nds defeated their Clondalkin counterparts 19-18, despite having Dave Ward controversially red-carded after only five minutes. Eddie Conaty scored the only try and Keelan Toolan kicked the remaining points, including the winning penalty with two minutes left. Cathal Field scored a hat-trick of tries in Ashbourne 3rds' 50-10 victory over Dundalk on Friday night in the McGee Cup. -Malahide stepped up their bid for promotion to the 1B division when they won 369 at Clane to maintain second spot in the 2A table. -Skerries return to AIL Division 2B action next Saturday when they host joint leaders Armagh at Holmpatrick (2.30pm).