Ardee RFC’s Leinster League campaign ended in heartbreaking fashion as they succumbed to a 17-26 defeat to Westmeath side Midland Warriors, in their crucial Promotion/Relegation Playoff at the ALSAA Sports Centre in Swords.
The Ardee men went into today’s game knowing what was needed. Win and they remain in Division 2B, but defeat would condemn the Townparks side to relegation to Division 3, at the expense of Midland Warriors.
The conditions could not have been better in Swords with the beaming sun and planes from nearby Dublin Airport providing a perfect backdrop for the big game. The opening half was not as pretty for Ardee however.
Within 10 minutes of the 3pm kickoff Ardee found themselves facing a huge mountain to climb as the Warriors raced into a 14-0 lead thanks to two early tries. It was a nightmare scenario for Ardee.
Ardee fought hard to get a foothold in the game and were given a boost when Midland were reduced to 14 men following the dismissal of Dusan Vucicevic to the sin bin following foul play.
The man advantage didn’t do Ardee any favours as, despite being a man light, Midland’s Keith Sothern charged through to extend their already healthy lead. After just half an hour the Westmeath men were in full control with a 21 point lead.
It wasn’t all bad for Ardee, with ever presents Jason Monaghan, Ben O’Brien and Cathal Bradley putting in solid performances as they desperately looked to get a score on the board.
Their efforts were rewarded just before half time as Conor Reilly reduced the arrears with a late try underneath the posts. The successful conversion left the score at 7-21 going into the break.
It was a bad case of deja vu for Ardee, after 25 minutes of the second half. As Midland were once again reduced to 14, they once again upset the odds to score through Keith McKiernan, increasing their lead to 7-26.
Ardee’s woes were further increased when first half try scorer Conor Reilly was forced out of the game following a bad tackle.
By this stage Ardee were staring down the barrel of relegation, but to their credit they kept on fighting. Two quick fire tries from Aaron Keeley and Jason Monaghan reduced the deficit to 17-26, but missed conversions left them chasing a two score lead with less than 10 minutes left.
In the end it proved too much for Ardee to overcome. The local side will play Leinster League Division 3 rugby next season after an eventful season in Division 2B.
After a rough start, the Ardee men enjoyed some mid season success before a points deduction, awarded for fielding an ineligible player, derailed their progress. Six successive defeats condemned the Townparks men to today’s unsuccessful playoff tie.
Ardee will look to bounce back in the cup competitions which will now take centre stage before the season comes to an end.