For the opening 40 minutes of this Junior 3 League match, Donaghadee 2nd XV played down the slope of the “wee” pitch. At the time this seemed important, because the word was that their opponents had not lost a game this season, and a good start could maybe set up an upset!
At times the kicking from the Dee men was less than accurate, but their running was good and powerful. Following the fine examples set by their experienced players like Davy Thompson, Nick Lord, Brian McCracken and Thomas Trainor, the Donaghadee players threw themselves into the game with gusto. Their best co-ordinated attack featured some of the younger, newer guys in the club. It brought them the reward of an excellent try, scored by Marcus Gibson. Adam Lowry, who was having a very impressive passing game at outside-half was just wide with his conversion attempt, so the half-time score of 5-3 (courtesy of a penalty kicked by Inishowen) to Donaghadee was not that great a comfort to the Dee men - who knew full well how much of a challenge they now faced as they were both playing up the slope, and into the wind. As both teams tired these factors should have favoured the visitors.
This realisation may well have been the spark that was needed to unite the Dee forwards, who now became a much more formidable unit. The spectators who chose to watch this tightly-contested game (rather than the more one-sided game on the adjacent 1st's pitch) were rewarded for their club spirit as the Second's players took more command at the line-outs, with some excellent jumping by 2nd row Peter McQuillan. Their scrums showed a good deal more purpose, and the forwards’ all-round loose play improved immensely. Amongst the backs the determined tackling was both stirring and impressive.
Inishowen had not travelled all the way from Carndonagh to be beaten, and were as committed and giving as much effort as the Dee men. The difference between the two was in the reward that came Inishowen’s way. A loose Donaghadee pass was picked off by a stretching Inishowen hand and they were able to score between Donaghadee’s posts to take them to a worrying 10-5, with the try converted.
The Donaghadee men are made of stern stuff, and leapt back into the fray determined to make amends for this Inishowen effort. Nick Lord at scrum-half got himself in amongst the Inishowen players, spoiling much of their effort. Human dynamo Tommy Trainor is never far away when there is a loose ball, and when some fierce and committed rucking from the Dee forwards presented him with an opportunity, he was in with his usual alacrity to pounce on it and score an equalising try. Unfortunately the difficult conversion kick was missed and the game ended in a 10-10 draw; that most regarded as a fair result.
The Donaghadee team was: Anthony Bunting, Paddy Quinn, Marcus Gibson, Harvey Lennon,Dickie Baillie, Adam Lowry, Nick Lord; Marcus Nelson, Paul Hamilton. Richard Gillan, Brian McCracken, Peter McQuillan, Gavin Prue, Thomas Trainor and David Thompson.