Ardee Community School suffered a heavy 60-15 defeat to Wexford’s Good Counsel College in today’s McMullen Cup final at Donnybrook Stadium – but head coach Andy Robb insists there’s more to come from his team as thoughts now turn to the 2017/2018 campaign.
Ardee were blown away by the incisive and quick counter-attacking from their opponents from New Ross and went in 28-0 down at the interval. Andrew Bingham’s try finally got ACS on the scoreboard before a brace of late tries from Joe Mullholland provided some comfort to the players and the big travelling contingent from the school and Ardee town.
It was hardly a one-sided affair – despite the scoreline – with Ardee playing more of the rugby before the break. However, they had no answer for the blistering and clinical attack of Good Counsel. Ardee were well and truly put to the sword.
Reflecting on the match, coach Robb told ThisIsArdee.ie that the match was a steep learning curve for his young team.
“The result was disappointing. From the start we were up against it,” he said moments after watching the Wexford boys lift the cup. The defeat means the wait for a final victory at Donnybrook goes on for the school.
“We’ve learnt how we need to step up from where we are this year and the things we need to work on. It was a poor start from us and a strong start from them and then we were fighting back.
“But they didn’t give up. I’m proud of them they dug in until the end and scored the last score of the game – three late tries – if we got going a bit earlier, you’d never know,” he continued.
It took nearly 50 minutes for ACS to register the first score through full back Andrew Bingham. After Conor Gillespie and Cyr Bakekolo were denied down the middle, the ball was worked well down the left where Bingham carried over.
Ten minutes later, Mullholland showed his pace down the opposite flank before repeating the trick with the last play of the game. It was a positive to take from a chastening afternoon’s rugby in Dublin.
“That’s the way it rolls. They were clinical,” Robb said. “First phase ball, they were through all the time. A couple of missed tackles from us, a couple of sloppy tries for them which we need to work on but it’s a learning curve.
“We always had a three year plan in mind with this team so hopefully next year we’ll go again. Most of them are TYs and fifth years so that entire team is there next year. I hope to be back.
“We were promoted this year, we were development cup finalists last year. We thought ‘how are we going to get on in this new division?’. We couldn’t believe we got this far. I’m totally proud, totally delighted.”
You can relive the whole afternoon on our liveblog and remember to keep an eye out on ThisIsArdee.ie and on social media over the next few days for photographs from the match.