Dungannon almost upset the odds when, via a superb second half rally, they finished just seven points short at windswept Holmpatrick.
The narrow defeat did bring a losing bonus point that lifted the visitors off the bottom of the league table but with a little bit of luck James Bates’ team may well have denied promotion chasing Skerries.
With wind advantage Dungannon attacked from the start, laying siege on the Skerries line. James McMahon picked up but a penalty for holding spoiled the chance. Minutes later a downfield kick saw David Quirke knock-on and from the ensuing scrum McMahon made no mistake when he burst through for the opening try on 9 minutes. Jack Milligan missed the conversion by inches but Dungannon were off to a perfect start.
Skerries hit back and 5 minutes later No 8 and skipper, Ross McCauley touched down to level matters. Conal Keane added the conversion to give Skerries the lead.
If the opening quarter was fairly even the second belonged to the hosts with the wingers scoring 3 tries between them. First it was Eddie O’Mahony on 21 minutes with Keane adding the extras for a 14-5 lead.
Left winger, Derek Keane dotted down on the half hour before O’Mahony completed his brace on 35 minutes. That ended a purple patch for Skerries, halftime 24-5.
Dungannon, with the pack moving up a gear started the second half on the front foot. With the Sinnamon brothers, Glen and Steven going well the visitors held the edge at scrum time.
In the first of several 5m sets the home side was forced to defend. Dungannon then released the ball but a fumble spoiled the visit. However, the visiting pack continued to hold the upper hand and McMahon was well supported by back row colleagues, David Leyburn and Peter Gilkinson.
A score was bound to come and it did when Milligan sold a perfect dummy before touching down for a try that he converted himself. At 24-12 Dungannon were really taking the game to Skerries.
The surge continued into the final quarter and, when a jittery home back line tried to clear, the ball was charged down and Ethan Allen coolly collected to score on 72 minutes.
At 24-17 it was now game on and Dungannon may well have registered a 4th try but the referee was unsighted when a clearance kick from the leaders was preceded by a ‘knock on’. However, the travelling supporters were heartened to see their team control the latter half while the home supporters were more than a little relieved to hear the final whistle.
Dungannon: Matthew Montgomery, Mark O’Shea, Mark Faloon, Ethan Allen, Gerard Treanor, Jack Milligan, James Bates, Steven Sinnamon, Karl Egan, Glen Sinnamon, John Joe Kane, Stephen Todd, David Leyburn, Peter Gilkinson, James McMahon. Reps; Daniel Maxwell, Sean O’Hagan, Rodney Blair, Marcus Mulgrew, Darren Simpson.
Skerries- David Quirke, Eddie O’Mahony, Kevin McGrath, Marc Hewitt, Derek Keane, Conal Keane, Eoghan Carron, David Reilly, Chris Tonge, Wayne Aquila, Joe Glennon, AJ Sherlock, Evan Sherlock, Thomas O’Hare, Ross Mccauley. Subs: John Condron, Eoin Matthews, Ross Halligan, Robbie Jenkinson, Paul Devitt.
Referee: Dave O’Flynn
Dungannon II 7
Harlequins II 41
At Stevenson Park on Saturday Dungannon Seconds trailed 7-14 and then shipped a couple of injuries before Harlequins took control and ran out 41-7 winners.
Robbie Anderson scored the losers’ try and which Andrew Lee converted.
Seconds: Gareth McGonigle. Jonny Toal, Andrew Creaney, Andrew Mills, Andrew Lee. Robert McLean, Jack Ravey. Charlie Farrell, Neil Baird, Mark Wright, Robbie Anderson.
Cooke II 52
Dungannon III 26
There was a cracking game at Shaw’s Bridge when Cooke II and Dungannon III scored 82 points between.
Cooke ran out 52-26 winners with Jonny Wright, Julian Knipe, Nathan Smyth and Mitchell Freestone-Leong scoring the Dungannon tries, Wright converting three.
“There was never a dull moment in this game” quipped manager Ali Moore.
Thirds: Scott McLean. Mitchell Freestone-Leong, Matthew Rodgers, Kevin McElduff, Gordon Stewart. Jonathan Wright, Julian Knipe. Paul Martin, Philip McCammon, Nathan Smyth. Jack McDonald, Scott Simpson. Matthew Calvert, Michael Jones, Marc McGahan. Daniel Salt, Tony O’Hagan, Richard Holmes.
New rugby chairman, Kenny Wright watched the spirited Dungannon performance in Dublin on Saturday and he will be hoping for more of the same when Barnhall drop in at Stevenson Park this Saturday.
The Fork Handles grabbed the spoils at the Thursday Table Quiz with the Autism Charity making over £400. Chairperson, Jane Rooney thanked all those who supported the event.
This week it is the turn of the Save the Children Charity.