Letterkenny 13-41 Donaghadee
By Tony McBride
Donaghadee Prove League Credentials in Clinical Performance at the Glebe
On a changeable day at the Glebe, Letterkenny welcomed league leaders Donaghadee for the first of their league encounters this year. Coming in to the fixture, Donaghadee boasted a glorious record of 7 from 7 this season having comprehensively beaten all of their opposition to date. Letterkenny meanwhile were fresh off their win in Newry and felt confident approaching this fixture. The Letterkenny coach was forced to shuffle the deck after losing two regular starters in the pack early in the week. This paved the way for the introduction of Conor Dunleavy and wing Seany Henry.
Like the weather, the game kicked off quite brightly. Letterkenny showed early signs of positional dominance through their pack. Managed quite well by the half back pairing of Fogarty and Scott, Kenny were able to navigate themselves in to good positions on the pitch. Donaghadee held off the early challenge though and it became quite apparent that this side were not only strong in attack but quite defensively solid as well.
Letterkenny were unable to convert their early pressure in to points while Donaghadee made the most of their brief visits to the Lettekenny 22 in the first half. The first of their tries came when their inside centre burst through quite close to a ruck. With the Letterkenny defence on the back foot, the Donagahdee number 6 was able to shake off a tackle and just about stay on his feet long enough to fall underneath the posts.
Letterkenny replied immediately with more dominant carrying from the pack and they did well to earn a penalty when Donaghadee went off their feet at the breakdown. Scott made no mistake from the tee, carrying on his fine form with the boot to make the score 7-3.
Their second score came from a scrum just outside the 22. They had varied their attack sufficiently up to this point and from the scrum they chose to spin the ball wide down the open side. Their winger who had hugged the touchline showed great pace first of all to go beyond the gain line before stepping inside the tackle of McBride and holding off the efforts of a third tackler to score in the corner. This made for a difficult conversion and the score remained at 12-3 in favour of Donaghadee.
Just before half time, Letterkenny engineered a sublime break through the footwork of Brian McGinley. The Downings man made great headway down the middle of the pitch and again, Donagahdee were forced to concede another kickable penalty.
Half time Letterkenny 6-12 Donaghadee
Shortly after the break Donaghadee looked to put the game to bed when they upped the tempo in the early stages of the second half. This led to a third try for visitors when their number 9 took a quick tap and darted over in the corner. The out half was unable to convert and the score remained at 17-6.
Following the restart Letterkenny pushed hard to get themselves back in to the game. After repeated infringements close to the Donagahdee line, the referee sin binned their centre and Letterkenny opted for the scrum where they have had good return all season. The ball was shipped to centre Andrew Gibson and who broke the defence to score just left of the posts. Once again Scott converted and the score was back to 17-13.
At this point Letterkenny were very much in the game but right from the restart, they failed to claim the ball and Donaghadee pounced. Just as they had shown in the first half, they remained clinical in the scoring zone, going over for their 4th try of the day. The gap was back to 9 points and Letterkenny began to lose their way.
As the clock ticked towards 80, Donaghdee grew and Letterkenny wilted. Two more tries for the visiting team ensued, one of which was a magnificent move from their back line to put their fullback in under the posts. Letterkenny were unable to add to their score and the result finished Letterkenny 13-41 Donaghadee.
Next up for Letterkenny is Monaghan away. Monaghan have been going well this season and Letterkenny will face another tough encounter on the road. With the talent in the squad they will be hopeful to bounce back and continue on their upward curve.