Match report by Geoff Ingham
Donaghadee travelled to Monaghan on Saturday for a Championship 2 League encounter. As usual there was a plethora of changes to the Dee line up for a cornucopia of reasons. The backline saw five changes with Adam McGrath at out-half with Aaron McKee and Adam Russell on the wings. David Kirkpatrick played for the first time this year, partnering Matthew Stockton in the centre. Davy Skipp and Stephen Gillam came into the front row and Nathan Boyd moved from the second row to number eight.
The playing surface was still moist due to the wintry weather during the week. Monaghan kicked off into the stiff breeze and immediately were on the attack, forcing Dee deep into their half. This pressure paid off after five minutes when they broke through the defensive line to score to give them a 5 -0 lead.
Possession and territory were shared equally for the next fifteen minutes with the Dee resolute in defence and also putting some good phases together in attack. However, it was Monaghan who scored next to stretch their lead when their number eight crashed over to score. The conversion was successful to push the score to 12-0.
Five minutes later Monaghan created an overlap and the left winger touched down in the corner. Just before half-time things got worse for the Dee when a Dee back was sinbinned for a high tackle. Monaghan took full advantage of the numerical disparity when a kick into the corner found an unmarked Monaghan winger who touched down to make the half time score 22-0 to the hosts.
The second half began in a similar fashion when Monaghan scored under the posts to increase their lead to 29-0. Ten minutes later a kick to the corner just managed to stay in play and the winger touched down for an unconverted score. The small contingent of Dee supporters feared that a heavy defeat was on the cards but this young Dee team did not let their heads drop. They continued to defend tirelessly and some strong runs by the likes of Ryan Butler, Nathan Boyd and Sam Moore gave the backs some opportunities to show their attacking capabilities.
Every time Sam Hyland got the ball he caused Monaghan all sorts of trouble and on the hour mark he managed to evade the Monaghan defenders and kicked for the corner. As the ball bounced over the Monaghan line Dee winger Aaron McKee won the race for the touchdown.
The Dee were the better team in the last quarter of the game but were not able to convert any of the opportunities into points and the referee blew for full time to leave the final score 34-5 to Monaghan.
Another defeat but another spirited performance from this young Dee side. Only two of the starting pack of forwards were older than twenty-one years of age and these young players continue to improve week on week as they gain experience. A great team effort this week but the player that stood out and, therefore, man-of-the-match was Matthew Stockton. His defensive performance was superb and his never-say-die attitude inspires those around him.
Next Saturday Virginia are the visitors to Donaldson Park, k.o. 2,30pm