Wednesday 11 December 2019

Kennedy stars as Ashbourne stamp their authority on top-tier rivals

Ashbourne resumed normal service at the summit of the Leinster League Division 1A last Saturday as they beat Dundalk 23-15 in their top-of-the-table clash at home in Milltown House to extend their lead over their rivals to five points. Stock photo
Ashbourne resumed normal service at the summit of the Leinster League Division 1A last Saturday as they beat Dundalk 23-15 in their top-of-the-table clash at home in Milltown House to extend their lead over their rivals to five points. Stock photo

Dermot O'Mahony

Ashbourne resumed normal service at the summit of the Leinster League Division 1A last Saturday as they beat Dundalk 23-15 in their top-of-the-table clash at home in Milltown House to extend their lead over their rivals to five points.

The victory was due in large parts to the excellent performance of scrum-half and captain Gavin Kennedy, who scored 20 points including an early drop goal before getting yellow-carded approaching the quarter-hour mark for a high tackle, and the visitors used the extra man to good effect to cross for a pair of tries by full-back Robert Williams and winger James Shields, one of which Will Schutz converted.

Before the end of the sin-binning, full-back Kelan Toolan slotted a penalty for the hosts (otherwise it's arguable that Kennedy would have scored all the home side's points) and the returning skipper did get a similar score after Dundalk's flanker James McConnon received the same fate for a high tackle.

This time the home side made good use of the extra numbers and it was the irrepressible scrum-half who was on hand to touch down for the lead score that sent Ashbourne into half-time interval leading 14-12.

Dominating Within two minutes of the restart Schutz restored the visitors' lead with a penalty and despite dominating up front thereafter Ashbourne were consistently denied by brave Dundalk defence until Kennedy struck 10 minutes from the end with a penalty.

He added two more late penalty goals to deprive the Louth side a losing bonus point and the win now reasserts Ashbourne's position as favourites for their second Division 1A title in three seasons.

Suttonians have moved up to third place after their hard-earned 12-10 win in Wicklow, a result that keeps the Ashtown Lane outfit in the basement position but now a little further adrift, five points behind seventh-placed Kilkenny who lost 24-20 in Seapoint.

Centre Conor Jennings' try for Suttonians, converted by full-back Nathan Henderson, was the difference at the interval in Wicklow and after the hosts had drawn level replacement prop forward James Hurley barged over for the five-pointer that ultimately proved to be the game-winner for the Dubliners.

Seapoint trailed by 10 points midway through the second half in Kilbogget Park against Kilkenny before two late tries by out-half Daragh Mullins and hooker Cian Cunningham helped deliver a bonus-point win, something that Bective Rangers also achieved in an impressive 27-0 win at home in Energia Park against Gorey.

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