ON WHAT WAS a bitterly cold day at Dave Gallaher Park, Letterkenny will have been warmed somewhat by the manner of their performance against second placed Donaghadee.
In the opening fixture of the season an understrength Letterkenny side had suffered an absolute drubbing at the hands of the Dee men. Indeed, not many gave Letterkenny the slightest chance in this, the return fixture. Yet it was the home side that will come away with a sense of what may have been and wondering how they did not win this game. The young side outwitted by the veteran scrum half and one time Letterkenny hero Andy Monson.
Donaghadee opened the scoring when their big second row, Kyle Morrow, crashed over from close range.
It was a difficult day for handling and Donaghadee pounced on a dropped pass to build an attack deep into Letterkenny territory. Monson, a man familiar with every inch of Dave Gallaher Park, spotted the lack of cover and delivered a beautiful chip in behind for the on rushing centre Matthew Stockton to fall on for the visitors 2nd try of the day.
This seemed to spur the home side into action and they spent the rest of the half encamped in the opposition half. The home side were awarded a 5 metre scrum following a knock on. From then on it was all about the home sides powerful pack. Props Christopher Digimas and the ever impressive 18 year old, David Ward, put their opposite numbers under huge pressure and they eventually cracked. The result: A penalty try for the second game in a row. Halftime 7-10.
The second half became a real battle of attrition. Some big carries by Brown, Green and Dunleavy for Letterkenny saw them come close but some huge defense from the visitors kept the black and amber wave at bay.
Despite all the pressure it would be the away side that would score next and extend their lead. Some excellent build up play saw the ball arrive in the hands of Dee number 8 Connor McKee. Despite a brave last ditch tackle from ‘Kenny outhalf Andrew Gibson, McKee somehow managed to stay in bounds to dot down in the corner. The conversion was missed to leave the scores at 7-15.
Letterkenny pushed all out for the final minutes of the game in hope of getting back in the game. Time and time again they threatened the visitors line without any joy as the Green and Red of the County Down men held firm.
In the final moments Letterkenny thought they had their second try when the hard working Michael Grant crashed over from close range. However the referee, correctly, ruled the score out for a double movement.
With time up, Letterkenny were awarded a penalty about 25 meters out to the left of the posts and Captain David Brown, with a losing bonus point and league position in mind called for a shot the posts. Young Peter Scott stepped up and showing a maturity beyond his years, coolly slotted the ball between the post to bring the home side within the requisite seven points to earn a precious league point as the referee blew for full-time.
Letterkenny RFC: 1: David Ward, 2: Shaun McGill, 3: Christopher Digimas, 4: Michael Grant, 5: Conor Dunleavy, 6: Gary Canning, 7: Michael Foy, 8: David Brown, 9: Dillon Doherty, 10: Andrew Gibson, 11: Martin Molloy, 12: Peter Scott, 13: Matthew Faulkner, 14: Niall Duffy, 15: Daragh Turley. 16. Christopher Green, 17. Conor Cannon
Donaghadee RFC: 1 Adam Torrens; 2 Gareth Deering, 3 Ryan Campbell, 4 Connor O’Byrne, 5 Kyle Morrow, 6 Matthew Johnson, 7 Chris Hamilton, 8 Connor McKee, 9 Andy Monson, 10 Mark Cooper, 11 Chris Knox, 12 Matthew Stockton (c), 13 Rory Garnham, 14 Robbie Ingham, 15 Andy Cash. 16 Dan Lindsay, 17 Jack Chesney