Reigning Leinster champions Dundalk Colleges kept their crown intact after they were pushed all the way by St Mel's in Longford yesterday.
Once again the adverse weather played its part, with St Mel's opting to play with the strong breeze in the first half. Dundalk Colleges were forced to make one change to their starting 15 when their captain James Stewart picked up an ankle injury earlier in the week. However, Stewart's introduction midway through the second half helped to turn things around.
St Mel's drew first blood and raced into a four-point lead. Paddy Kiernan took their first from a difficult position, and Brian Walsh, Killian Farrell and Andrew Dalton also notched scores.
Trailing by seven points at the interval, Dundalk quickly started to reduce the deficit. A goal from Ben McLoughlin put just three points between the teams by the 38th minute.
Cian Doyle's impressive performance continued to inspire Dundalk and they eventually carved out a narrow lead to secure their place in the next round.
Scorers -- Dundalk Colleges: C Doyle 0-4 (2f), B McLoughlin 1-0, C McKeever 0-2 (1f), R Quigley 0-1. St Mel's College: K Farrell 0-4 (2f), L Moran 0-2 (fs), P Kiernan, A Dalton, B Walsh 0-1 each.
Dundalk Colleges -- S Murphy; A Smith, C Lenehan, C McMenamin; J Arrowsmith, D Smith, T Murphy; C Noonan, C Giggins; R Carr, C Doyle, M Newell; B McLoughlin, R Quigley, C McKeever. Subs: J Stewart for T Murphy (36), R Kehoe for Carr (46), D Bannon for A Smith (56).
St Mel's -- C Farrell; S Rogers, N Keenan, A Duffy; B Smith, D Bennett, R Sweeney; C Casserly, J Keenan; D Kelly, A Dalton, R McGowan; K Farrell, P Kiernan, B Walsh. Subs: L Moran for Kelly (14), N Conroy for Smith (50).
Ref -- D Maher (Westmeath).