Skerries earned their first win on the road last Saturday, when they took the trip up the motorway to Dundalk. It was another performance that contained enough pace and execution to suggest that when they’re in the mood they’re as good as anyone in their division.
As it happened, results went their way in the rest of Leinster League Div 1A, putting Skerries within striking distance of leaders Newbridge. Heading into the next match, at home to Coolmine in a fortnight, Skerries are gaining vital momentum. More than that, when they’re in top gear they look like they’re enjoying their rugby. At those moments, they’re certainly a joy to watch.
It wasn’t a perfect performance, though, with the line-outs misfiring and a sense that a bonus point was left behind. But the early part of the match was all Skerries, with Dundalk left dazed by how quickly Skerries raced into a healthy lead.
Only six minutes in, out half David Hewitt took a pass from scrum half Chris Keane inside Dundalk’s 22, jinked past his opposite number and sprinted over the try line. Conal Keane slotted the conversion.
Only five minutes later, and after Skerries had run Dundalk ragged with repeated phases of slick play, a Chris Keane break ventually led to Hewitt getting over for his second try. With the conversion added, it was already 14-0 to Skerries.
It didn’t get much better for Dundalk, with Conal Keane adding a penalty on 21 minutes and Skerries winning a scrum against the head just after that. The host’s only consolation was that Skerries had lost repeated line-outs.
It took Dundalk a full half hour before they stepped inside the Skerries 22. But when Skerries pinched a turnover, a perfectly timed pass from centre Ed Caraher found winger Kevin McGrath, who used a strong hand-off to break clear and score Skerries’ third try. Conal Keane added the conversion. It was 24-0.
At this stage, a rout looked to be on the cards, but to Dundalk’s credit they came back strongly, with their hooker Johnny Gray all too easily finding a gap off a ruck and touching down on the stroke of half time.
The second half then proved a tighter affair, with Dundalk’s forwards gaining in confidence. But three Conal Keane penalties stretched Skerries’ lead despite Dundalk using the maul to pile over for a second try.
Skerries pressed for a bonus point try and looked to have grabbed one when Chris Tonge went on a bullocking run towards the posts - only to be felled by a last ditch tap tackle. Later, winger Colin Doyle used his strength to get through two tackles but couldn’t quite escape the final defender.
However, Skerries’ passing and handling wasn’t as slick as it had been in the first half, and once prop James Ngatupuna came off with ten minutes left the scrum was less of a platform. Dundalk contained Skerries and pushed for a consolation try. The bit of niggle that had broken out a couple of times continued, and Rick O’Mahony was sin-binned with a couple of minutes left. But this game had been won in the first minutes, not the last.
15 David Quirke
14 Colin Doyle
13 Eddie Caraher
12 Conal Keane
11 Kevin McGrath
10 David Hewitt
9 Chris Keane
1 Mark Nally
2 Chris Tonge
3 James Ngatupuna
4 Rick O’Mahoney
5 Joe Glennon ( c )
6 Thomas O’Hare
7 Kevin O’Connell
8 Ross McAuley