Garda banged up by rampant Dundalk
THE League title may have slipped form their grasp before Christmas, but Dundalk could be hitting form just in time for a Towns Cup tilt in the spring.
Ene Fa'atau's men certainly showed Garda no mercy at Mill Road on Saturday afternoon, running in a whopping 12 tries in the process.
Ironically it was the visitors who started the brighter forcing Dundalk to concede a number of early penalties, but the hosts eventually found their rhythm to score with virtually their first attack.
After some strong carrying by the forwards, the ball was quickly recycled to scrumhalf Thomas Campbell who set Jonathan Williams clear of the fullback before feeding Afa Fa'atau to dive over the opening try. Ultan Murphy added the extras to put Dundalk 7-0 ahead after eight minutes of play.
There was no real hint of the impending avalanche as Garda re-grouped and hit back with a penlty to make it 7-3 after 15 minutes, but Dundalk soon had try number two on the board.
A good move involving Campbell, Afa Fa'atau, Greg Whatley and Christopher O'Hanlon was finished off by Jonathan Grey out wide. That made for a tricky conversion for Murphy, but he obliged in style to make it 14-3.
Garda didn't lie down and another penalty for hands in the ruck made reduced the gap to 14-6.
However, Dundalk looked dangerous with every attack and fullback Ultan Murphy sliced through the visitor's defence to make 19-6 30 minutes.
There was no let-up for Garda and flying winger Daniel O'Connor crossed for another try to make 26-6, securing an early bonus point for the hosts.
And another try arrived before the break as Afa Fa'atau scored under the posts to make it 31-16 at the interval.
Garda finally hit back with a penalty six minutes into the new half, but Jonathan Grey capitalised on some slack play by the visitors just 10 metres from their own line to add try number six, which Campbell converted to increase Dundalk's lead to 38-9.
Afa Fa'atau selflessly teed up Campbell for a simple try soon afterwards and he added the extras to make to make it 45-9.
Garda heads had dropped completely at that stage and Greg Whately ghosted in to add another try to the growing tally. From the kick-off Ene Fa'atau won possession and burst through the visitor's defence for a superb individual try, whcih Campbell again converted, making it 59-9.
A tap down from Ciaran Sloan from the kick off set Steen free and from an ensuing ruck Campbell found Sloan again, who in turn fed Williams to score under the posts. This time Johnathan Williams converted to make it 669 with a quarter of an hour left to play.
Robert WilliamS was next to cross the try line after a great run by Owen McNally and Afa Fa'atau completed his hat-trick just before full time when he charged down the wing to the dismay of the Garda wingers. Again Campbell converted to leave the full time score 83-9.
Man of the Match was Lawrence Steen whose great work in the tackle meant Dundalk had plenty of ball, while his great catching and strong running had the Garda defence in touble all afternoon.
Dundalk face Coolmine away next Saturday at 2.30pm. DUNDALK: U Murphy, D O'Connell, G Scully, A Fa'atau, S E Fa'atau, J Williams, T Campbell, R Farrell, J Grey, J Smith, C O Hanlon, C Sloan, L Steen, S Martin, G Whately. Subs: C Williams, R Sheilds, R Williams, O Mc Nally.