Ardee Rugby Club got their Leinster League Division 3 campaign off to a fine start on Sunday afternoon, as Conor Reilly scored two tries en route a 26-19 win over Garda RFC at Townparks in Ardee.
Reilly went over either side of half time, his tries bookending the home side’s scores in a match that ended with a rearguard action preventing Garda from an opportunity to draw level. Stephen Harmon and James Conlon also scored tries in the first half, with Ben O’Brien kicking three conversions from four throughout.
Reilly scored the game’s first try 13 minutes in, crashing over after some concerted Ardee pressure. Before that Shane Lennon had gone close and the referee had called play back when Keith Halpenny had picked out Cathal Bradley on the wing. The home side were guilty of giving away a number of cheap penalties but Garda struggled to find men or touch.
Within 20 minutes, inside-centre James Conlon showed his pace and power to smash through for the second try. As with the first, O’Brien was consistent with his kicking and split the posts with the conversion. Captain Stephen Harmon did well to go over for a third try minutes later.
Garda knew they needed to arrest the Ardee march and despite only making yards from Ardee concessions, they replied with a try of their own after the half hour mark. The conversion was missed and the scores were left at 21-5.
The visitors started the second half brightly and were more effective in their carrying. Within three minutes of the restart, a converted try brought them back into the game. Flying winger Jason Monaghan thought he had broken through but again play was called back. Poor throws contributed to weak Garda lineouts throughout – a source of joy for Ardee and Reilly extended their lead after sterling work from Harmon. A nice shimmy left a man on the line beaten as Reilly went over. There was no conversion this time.
The arrears were reduced with nine minutes remaining when the visiting full-back was given the chance to stretch his legs in a Garda counterattack. He ran half the length of the field and scored – although Ardee RFC were adamant the ball was in touch. The conversion brought the score to 26-19, a converted try away from drawing the Guards level.
O’Brien’s injury time penalty sailed wide of the posts but the Ardee defence stood firm amidst the breakdown and held firm to secure an opening day win. It follows last week’s 28-5 win over North Meath in round two of the Jenkinson Cup. So far so good in 2017/18.
ARDEE RFC: Cillian O’Neill, Ciaran McCormack, Shane Russell, Stephen Harmon, James Daly, Ryan Cahill, Kevin McKeever, John Davitt, Ben O’Brien, Keith McKeever, Jason Monaghan, James Conlon, Conor Reilly, Cathal Bradley, Shane Lennon.
Replacements: Mikey Kelly for Ryan Cahill, Derek Martin for Shane Russell, Leigh Ross for Kevin McKeever, Liam Davitt for James Conlon.