Almost a home from home for Ardee Community School’s rugby team over recent years, Andy Robb’s young side are back at Donnybrook Stadium this Friday exactly 13 months after their last appearance. This time, the senior boys team are looking to go further than they’ve managed in all three of their previous performances at the Dublin venue.
On Friday, Ardee will take on Good Counsel College from Wexford and once again there’s unfinished business for the boys in blue and red. After a series of almosts and nearlys at Donnybrook in the last few years, the team are eager to take some silverware in 2017.
Here, we take a look back at Ardee Community School’s run to the McMullen Cup final.
November 16th 2016 – Ardee CS vs Ashbourne CS
Okay, admittedly, their progress to the second round was as straightforward as possible. Ardee didn’t have to take the field as Ashbourne conceded. It was one of four first round ties that was conceded by teams.
November 22nd 2016 – Ardee CS 41-7 Salesian College
In a repeat of last year’s Development Cup semi-final – a match in which Ardee CS emerged victorious at the death – once again, Ardee came out on top and this time they did so with plenty to spare. A tight first half saw Ardee go in with a three point advantage at the break at Townparks but led by Tadgh Duffy, stepping it up after the interval, ACS raced ahead as they continually exploited a creaking Salesian backline.
Conor Hennessy led the try count with three and Cian Taaffe got two aswell while Andrew Bingham and James Reilly also went over. Conor Gillespie kicked three conversions.
November 30th 2016 – Mount Temple 12-18 Ardee CS
Donal McKenny and Joe Mulholland were the late, late try scorers in a narrow victory over the boys from Clontarf as Ardee CS created history in becoming the first team from the school to reach the last four of this competition.
Captain Conor Hennessy showed his ability with his boot to kick two penalties and a conversion too in the victory – made all the more remarkable by the fact two ACS were sinbinned by referee David Moreau in a very hard fought affair. This was a memorable come from behind victory.
December 14th 2016 – Gormanston College 13-13 Ardee CS
On a wet Wedesnesday afternoon in Drogheda, the heavy rain before and during this semi-final clash made for a stodgy, hard-to-navigate surface at Boyne RFC. In tough conditions, Ardee CS found it equally difficult to get going.
In an equal enough encounter, Ardee came away the most disappointed that they didn’t take the game by the scuff of the neck and see off their Meath opponents. Lacking their usual clinicalness, late chances were passed up on as handling errors and loss of footing – that turf again – undoing ACS.
Conor Hennessey went over for the only try whilst Conor Gillespie was back on kicking duty to score a conversion and two penalties.
January 31st 2017 – Gormanstown College 33-41 Ardee CS
This semi-final replay swung this way and that. Ultimately, ACS got the job done, earning their place in their first McMullen Final showpiece. After an utterly dominant first half performance, Ardee at one point held a 19 point lead and could even feel aggreived at the lax defending which let Gormanstown in for their reply.
Outhalf Conor Gillespie was impressive throughout and Joe Mulholland’s trio of try scores certainly helped see them over the line. Despite early dominance, Gormanstown rallied and with just over five minutes remaining of the second half, just one point separated the teams.
The decisive try came, one of three converted by Conor Hennessy throughout, and that was that. Hennessy, Danny Morse, Eoin O’Sullivan and Lorcan Dixon scored the other tries. The final awaits this Friday.
Good Counsel’s Road to the Final
Second Round – CBS Wexford vs Good Counsel College (Conceded by CBS)
Third Round – Newpark Comprehensive 20-62 Good Counsel College
Semi-Final – Tullow Community School 13-49 Good Counsel College