Letterkenny under 18’s sit top of Premier section of the Ulster league after a very hard fought victory away to Armagh on Saturday.
Armagh 21-34 Letterkenny
This makes four out of four but this game was always going to be a real test and so it transpired. The final score line does not reflect the competitive nature of the game where Armagh took on the visitors with a formidable pack containing three Ulster under-18 players backed up with the Ulster 9 and 10.
Photo caption: Martin Molloy of Letterkenny RFC competing in the line-out on Saturday against Armagh
Their game plan was to close down space to limit the dangerous Letterkenny back line but key game management by Joseph Dunleavy at 8 and team captain Daniel Faulkner at 12 proved the difference between two very good teams.
The game started with Letterkenny on the attack straight from the kick off with Dermott Gallagher and John Fogarty clearing out rucks to give out half Peter Scott quick ball. A nice switch in mid field put Matthew Faulkner into space and he sprinted in under the posts.
Letterkenny then sat back and allowed Armagh attack around the fringes where the visitors pillar defence was found wanting in the extreme. The Armagh and Ulster scrum half William Holden identified this weakness and broke blind from a ruck and left the Letterkenny defence in his wake and scored the first of his three tries.
Letterkenny then got hold of the game with Dunleavy and Stephen Holmes leading the forward charge. Fogarty and the excellent David Ward were doing tremendous work in the tight against a very physical Armagh pack which allowed the Letterkenny back line to get more into the game.
Daniel Faulkner was in command in mid filed and put his outside centre away down the left wing. Matthew still had plenty to do but used his speed to score his second try in the left corner.
This was soon followed up by another typical score from Kevin Grant who ran the length of the pitch after collecting a long clearance. His swerving run left a good quality defence in his wake. Half time score 19 -7 to the visitors.
Letterkenny started the second half in complacent fashion and should have used the boot to play in the Armagh 22. Instead they fell off tackles and allowed Armagh play their close in driving game which allowed Holden to snipe in for his second try. With the Letterkenny pack now under severe pressure Peter Scott decided to run the ball from deep and found his first centre on the left wing on his own 22.
Faulkner decided to take on the Armagh defence and scored a great individual try in the corner which he then converted to push the lead out to 12. With 20 minutes left Armagh threw everything al Letterkenny and created numerous overlaps but failed to score thanks to tremendous cover tackles by Matthew Faulkner, Eunan Henry and Oisin Toal.
The pressure eventually paid off as Armagh kept the ball tight and created space for Holden to snipe once again to complete his hat trick. Armagh were now well in the ascendancy and pushed hard for an equalising score but Letterkenny held out and broke up filed through Martin Molloy and Daragh Toal. Daniel Faulkner then won an important penalty at the breakdown and secured the additional three points from a well taken kick from half way.
This score sealed the game with the visitors running in a final try through substitute winger Adam Quinn Boal to leave the final score line 34 to 21.
This was a real test for Letterkenny and they showed great character to win through. The relatively inexperienced pack lost Stephen Holmes to injury at half time but Connor Cannon moved to tight head and allowed Doyle to take over at hooker where he played very well.
The visitors work rate in defence in the second half was the main reason they held out with David Ward and Matthew Faulkner excellent in this regard. Letterkenny now look forward to the visit of Virginal to Dave Gallaher Park on Saturday next for another top of the table clash.
Congratulations to Joseph Dunleavy who has been selected for the Ireland u18 club squad for the Internationals to be held next Easter. This is a great achievement for Joseph and just reward for all his hard work over the last two seasons. All his team mates and Letterkenny RFC wish him well.
Douglas Doyle, Stephen Holmes, David Ward, Darmott Gallagher, John Fogarty, Martin Molloy, Daragh Toal, Joseph Dunleavy, Ben Khavia, Peter Scott, Eunan Henry, Daniel Faulkner (captain), Matthew Faulkner, Oisin Toal, Kevin Grant, Connor Cannon, Josh Smeaton, Adam Quinn Boal, Jack McGarvey, Callum Reid, James Roulston.
Letterkenny Rugby Club in association with main sponsor Kelly’s Toyota, Letterkenny & Mountcharles.Tags: