Athy win a classic Bank of Ireland Tom D’Arcy Cup Final
May 2, 2023 10:10 am Des Berry
Athy 45 Dundalk 43
Captain Andrew Doyle capped a classic 14-try Bank of Ireland Leinster Tom D’Arcy (U18) Cup final with a last-gasp try for Athy at Energia Park on Monday evening.
The ambition to play was evident right from the start as Athy full-back Oisin Gurfferty pierced the first line of defence and Dundalk’s Conall O’Callaghan charged from deep.
The Louth club looked to the maul to punish the concession of a penalty, lock Fionn Duffy and number eight Eoghan Staunton going close.
A lightning raid by Athy straight from off the top of a lineout started with Ruairi Scully’s burst up the middle and ended with Grufferty’s speed around the outside for James Harris to convert in the 12th minute.
Worse again, Dundalk lost Ronan McDonnell to the bin for taking Grufferty in the air at the restart which prompted another promising attack in which Harris’s grubber tumbled into touch.
However, the ability of O’Callaghan to break the line, a strike against the head at the scrum and Daniel Gregory’s incision put Dundalk in the right area.
A ball off the top from Lawrence Jones’ throw was taken at pace by Staunton for a muscular try to make it 7-5 in the 19th minute.
The combination of Deshawh Ighodaro and O’Callaghan was causing problems before Ahty produced a stunning try.
It involved multiple offloads in a move that travelled 90 metres, a Harris grubber grabbed by Andrew Doyle for Harris to convert.
The rapid deployment of Dundalk’s forces to create up the right was given real impetus by wing Leo MacRuairi’s acceleration and the timing of his pass for Jacob Dunleavy to ghost home, Diarmuid Reilly adding the extras.
They were back on the frontfoot again when lock Ryan Martin devoured the ground from deep to provide the platform for full-back Cian Kelly to outstrip the cover, Reilly converting from the left touchline for 19-14 in the 29th minute.
In a familiar theme, Athy moved sweetly from right to left, Grufferty cutting inside to set up a quick ruck which Doyle used to put Ruairi Scully over from a flat ball, Harris converting.
They were in the mood for more, flanker Scully pivotal to the game plan in cracking the gain line and Grufferty using his strength to make the line for 26-19 at the break.
It was anyone’s game. Prop Jonny Jones mastered a ruck to enable Reilly to go for a 5-metre lineout which was galvanised into a maul for Lawrence Jones to claim a try and for Reilly to convert in the 38th minute.
A slick move to the front of another lineout created a sliver of space for Ronan McDonnell to crash over in the left corner, Reilly connecting with a second spectacular touchline conversion for 33-26 in the 40th minute.
The thrill-a-minute play continued Harris using Grufferty as a decoy to release Conor Kelly into space.
Dundalk failed to heed the warning as Kelly skipped around three defenders the next time he saw the ball for Harris’s conversion to square it in the 49th minute.
Next up, centre Darragh Farrell was stationed on the short side to take Doyle’s smart ball on and scrum-half Doyle was on hand to take the ball home for Harris to make it 40-33 in the 57th minute.
It came as no surprise when Fionn Duffy’s direct carry opened the door for Dundalk to flash right for MacRuairi to go over unopposed in the 62nd minute.
They were able to turn the screw in the maul amid a frenzy of excitement, McDonnell crashing inside the cover from close range to take a 43-40 lead.
There was still time for one more Athy attack. The lineout was used to set in motion the backline, Joseph Fenning stopped short in the right corner before Doyle slipped in almost unnoticed to complete his hat-trick.
Scorers: Athy – A Doyle 3 tries; O Grufferty 2 tries; R Scully, C Kelly try each; J Harris 5 cons. Dundalk – R McDonnell 2 tries; E Staunton, J Dunleavy, C Kelly, L Jones, L Mac Ruairi try each; D Reilly 4 cons.
Athy: 15. Oisin Grufferty; 14. Conor Kelly, 13. Oran Kelleher, 12. Darragh Farrell, 11. Joseph Fenning; 10. James Harris, 9. Andrew Doyle (Capt); 1. Karol Donohoe, 2. John King, 3. Jack Henry, 4. Adam Healy, 5. Patrick Julian, 6. Jack Dooley, 7. Ruairi Scully, 8. James Walsh.
Replacements – 16. Dylan Rafferty, 17, Luke Sheerin, 18. Harry Bradbury, 19. Ryan McDonnell, 20. Callum Lang, 21. Ronan Delamere, 22. Raymond Glynn, 23. Jamie Kelly.
Dundalk: 15. Cian Kelly; 14. Daniel Gregory; 13. Deshawn Ighodaro; 12. Conall O’Callaghan, 11. Leo MacRuairi; 10. Diarmuid Reilly, 9. Jacob Dunleavy; 1. James Canning, 2. Lawrence Jones, 3. Jonny Jones, 4. Ryan Martin, 5. Fionn Duffy, 6. Ronan McDonnell, 7. Marco Jordaan, 8. Eoghan Staunton.
Replacements – 16. Rory Wallace, 17. Darragh Quinn, 18. Tadgh King, 19. Jake Fee, 20. Jamie Matthews, 21. Robert Malone, 22. Max Valentine, 23. Oran Rafferty.
Referee: D McGowan, Leinster Branch.