Dundalk survive despite home defeat on the final day

Kamva Mgwali, Dundalk scores a try during the Leinster League Division 1B game at Mill Road. Photo: Aidan Dullaghan/Newspics Photo: Aidan Dullaghan/Newspics

PJ MurrayThe Argus

While Dundalk’s league season ended in defeat, Dave Fearon’s side finished well clear of relegation danger in Division 1B.

Results went their way on the final day of the season as Dundalk finished fifth, four points clear of relegated Mullingar, thanks in part to a losing bonus and try bonus point in their 37-41 defeat.

Indeed, Dundalk finished the season with 11 bonus points, six from losing bonus point positions, the most in the division.

Longford travelled to Mill Road knowing a win could move them off the bottom and they set out their intentions early, splitting the posts with their first penalty.

Dundalk’s reply was almost instantaneous as they exploited a gap and Conall O’Callaghan went over. Darragh Conroy added the conversion as the hosts took a 7-3 lead.

It was very much an open game of rugby, neither side willing to leave anything in reserve. Conroy nudged his team further ahead with another penalty with 15 minutes played.

The game then exploded into life as the two teams exchanged tries. Longford levelled matters with their first try of the game and Dundalk soon struck back with Kamva Mgwali touching down to make it 17-10.

Longford levelled with a break from deep, both sides were playing expansive rugby and giving those in attendance a real spectacle. Dundalk’s third try, this time Darragh Conroy got in on the act, saw the hosts take a 24-17 lead in to half-time.

But with just eight minutes played in the second half, Dundalk trailed. It has been a feature of their season that they start the second half poorly and that continued on Sunday. An unconverted try and penalty saw the visitors take a 24-29 lead. A bonus point win was the bare minimum requirement for Longford, both teams had people relaying the scores elsewhere to the benches and Longford sensed there was hope in their quest to move off the bottom.

Longford further extended their lead midway through the half with another try. They failed to add the bonus points and the score was 24-34.

Three minutes later, Conroy split the posts to keep his team within striking distance. Club captain Laurence Steen smashed through the cover to ground the ball with 10 minutes left and level the game.

Dundalk looked to have secured a win with two minutes to go when Conroy scored yet another penalty to edge Dundalk 37-34 ahead. But there was one final twist in the game, Longford, from the restart, kept the ball alive and worked it down field to score a try and snatch the win, thus ensuring they go into the relegation play-off.

Dundalk will now keep themselves ticking over ahead of their Towns’ Plate second round game which has been scheduled for Easter Sunday, April 9. Clondalkin are the visitors on that day.

Dundalk: Conor Williams, Seán Arrowsmith, Simon O’Shea, Ben Mortimer, Greg Whatley, Kamva Mgwali, Mark Rowntree, Laurence Steen, Darragh Conroy, Conor Hennessy, Conall O’Callaghan, Jack Connolly, Morgan Thomas, Colin Corkery. Replacements: Robert Farrell, Jamie Rafferty, Ciarán Lennon, Deshawn Ighodaro, Leo Mac Rurai.