Depleted Ardee CS come off second best in Duff Shield decider
Duff Shield Final: Ardee Comm School 21 Good Counsel 43
Ireland star Tadhg Furlong was among the spectators as Ardee Community School put it up to Good Counsel of New Ross before finishing runners-up in the Duff Shield at Energia Park in Donnybrook last Wednesday.
The Louth side were missing six players on the day for various reasons, forcing the coaching staff into a total reshuffle, with some players in unfamiliar positions.
Even allowing for that handicap, Ardee couldn't have imagined their defence would be breached inside 45 seconds, as the Wexford side regathered their own kick-off and waltzed through the defence for an unconverted try.
However, Ardee regrouped and Finn Kelly burst through the centre and got over the line for a super individual score which was converted by Sean Reynolds.
For the next 15 minutes it was all Ardee and James Rogers was first to react to a loose ball, collecting it and sprinting through for a second touchdown, with Reynolds adding the extras for a 14-5 lead.
Good Counsel looked shaky at that stage, but the topsy-turvy nature of the first half continued as they claimed a well-worked converted try. That was the start of a run of 21 unanswered points as Good Counsel, spurred on by their past pupil Furlong, stormed 26-14 ahead by half-time.
Ardee battled hard after the break, but Counsel managed to suck the defence in a number of times to create numbers out wide, and their speed and organisation was difficult to deal with.
Eventually, Tiernan Barron bulldozed his way through to finish off a great passage of forward play and with 10 minutes left there was only two scores between the sides.
However, Ardee had no more to give at that stage and it was Good Counsel who finished strongest.
Ardee's player of the match was Conall McCague.