Donaghadee RFC Notes: I XV Make History @ Donaldson Park

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For the first time in Donaghadee Rugby Clubs’ 128 year history Donaldson Park was the venue for a competitive ‘All Ireland’ game on Saturday as Donaghadee played Dundalk in the opening round of the All Ireland Junior Cup.

Although Donaghadee progressed to the Quarter Final stage of this competition last season, all fixtures were played away from their home ground.

The weather conditions on Saturday were not ideal in encouraging local interest however the appeal of this prestigious knock-out competition brought the largest crowd of the season to Donaldson Park for what ended up being a typical cup encounter with no more than 5 points ever separating the two sides during 80 minutes of play.

Dundalk enjoyed an early flourish into the Donaghadee half and were first to register a score on the clubhouse board in the 5th minute with a beautifully struck penalty from Jonathan Williams. The accuracy of this early effort should have perhaps struck more urgent alarm bells within the home side of just how punishing the right boot of Williams could be.

After this early effort Donaghadee took control of the game largely thanks to the combination of the Dee pack having the upper hand to their counterparts and the effective control of the game that half backs Ali Lockhart and the returning Paul Blewitt were able to forge into play.

In weather conditions that made an expansive style of play more difficult the home side appeared to employ the most effective game plan early on that involved get ample numbers of bodies to the breakdown game and using their experienced out-half Blewitt to dictate territory.
The away side however used the wind and slight slope advantage to good effect with a number of useful kickers in their backline, on a number of occasions turning defensive situations into attack via this route.

On the 20th minute Dee were oddly penalised for crossing and Williams added to his 5th minute strike to give the visitors a six point’s lead.

Nigel Barker reduced this lead in the 29th minute after he himself charged down a Petelo clearance to put the home side back in possession.

After a couple of disjointed performances in recent league games Donaghadee were playing with great confidence and balance to the team. Their set pieces were dominant with Good and Martindale having a positive impact on the scrums and line-outs respectively. Younger members of the pack Michael Blair and Matthew Stockton also putting in notably mature committed performances.

Full Back Billy Allen was enjoying a good game ably fielding a number of testing high balls stewarding his two wingers Garnham and Irvine in both defence and attack.

As the clock marched on to the 40th minute Dee finished off the half with a penalty try and conversion to their points total. The penalty try being awarded after a series of infringements by Dundalk at Donaghadee’s ‘put into the scrum’ deep in the visitors 22.

Half Time Donaghadee 10 – Dundalk 6

The home side went on an early attack in the second half and on the 42nd minute Paul McKenzie created space for Nigel Barker to attack the Dundalk line. Barker looked to have done enough to make it past the covering tackler however in his efforts strained his hamstring and he fell just short of the line.

More fustratinging perhaps than the missed effort was the fact that the injury meant that this was the end of the influential Barkers participation. Within five minutes of Barkers departure Donaghadee also lost Chris Good to a reoccurring knee injury – it is no coincidence that the cohesive style and control that Donaghadee had in the first period was impacted with the withdrawal of these two individuals.

Donagahdee enjoyed the better of possession in the second period but were unable to penetrate the Dundalk line clinically. The away side were very disciplined in defence and were able to absorb waves of Donaghadee pressure and effectively clear their lines.

As the game went on Dundalk were able to mount greater pressure in the Dee half and the difference in the two teams on the day was that the home side conceded two penalties, both within the range of Williams who made no mistake with his 58th and 63rd minute efforts.

Donaghadee rallied late on as they desperately tried to chase the two point deficit however were unable to manufacture any clear scoring opportunities despite the best efforts of McKenzie who was relentless in his efforts to break the black and white wall of Dundalk jerseys.

Full Time – Donaghadee 10 – Dundalk 12

A very sound performance by the Dee then as, for much of the game last Saturday they more than matched Dundalk – who are currently unbeaten in their own provincial league – but just missed out on the prize of a Quarter Final spot.

Scoops Man of the Match – Gareth Gordon


Coaches McKenzie and Hennessey will no doubt look to bring many of the positives of Saturday’s 1st XV game into their important league clash this Saturday against UUC at Donaldson Park. Elsewhere the 2nd XV travel to play Grosvenor III in an attempt to keep up their impressive early season form. The 3rd XV have no game this week.


Following another resounding success from last season’s ‘Your Club Your Country’, the IRFU in association with Ulster Bank, have confirmed that this club fund raising initiative will run once again this season.

Last year with the support of valued sponsors and partners, the Grand Draw and competition raised over €700,000 for eligible clubs throughout Ireland. This season the aim is to increase this figure to over €1,000,000.

Donaghadee RFC will once again be taking part in this initiative and entry forms at a cost of £5 each will be available from Club members from this weekend.

The draw will take place on Wednesday 11th December 2013 and prizes are as follows:

1. England v Ireland 2014 RBS 6 Nations VIP trip to Twickenham
2. France v Ireland 2014 RBS 6 Nations VIP trip to Stade de France
3. Ireland v Scotland 2014 RBS 6 Nations VIP package in Aviva Stadium
4. Ireland v Wales 2014 RBS 6 Nations VIP package in Aviva Stadium
5. Ireland v Italy 2014 RBS 6 Nations VIP package in Aviva Stadium
6. A hospitality box at Ravenhill Stadium for RaboDirect PRO12 Match
7. Premium Package for 4 at Ravenhill Stadium for RaboDirect PRO12 Match
8. Premium Package for 2 at Ravenhill Stadium for RaboDirect PRO12 Match
9. Kukri Gift Voucher
10. Package for 2 at Ravenhill Stadium

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