Dundalk wrote their name into the Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup history books with a record-breaking 55-5 win over Bangor in Sunday’s final at Portadown RFC.
All roads led to Chambers Park for these two ambitious junior clubs, with Dundalk, who are in free-scoring form in their own league, bringing five busloads of supporters with them.
The Bangor fans, among the attendance of over 2,000, were equally passionate and in full voice as their side attempted to finish their first year in the competition as champions, having already dethroned last season's winners Enniscorthy.
However, Leinster Junior League leaders Dundalk were quickly into their stride and a scything run by influential centre Chris Scully (pictured below), off quick scrum ball, saw him run in the opening try in the fifth minute. Winger Ultan Murphy converted.
A cross-field wind was favouring Dundalk in the first half and after both teams had penalty misses, Dundalk continued to look the more fluent side in attack. Another Scully break, this time from an inviting pass by player-coach Ene Fa'atau, led to winger Owen McNally dotting down for 14-0.
Bangor's error count increased as they attempted to respond. They had trouble in securing their own lineout ball, and their defence was being regularly tested by the confident Dundalk runners.
Fa'atau's charges were playing at an infectious pace and with great accuracy, as evidenced by TC Campbell's pinpoint long pass that gave his half-back partner Johnny Williams the time and space to dummy his way over in the right corner for try number three.
That went unconverted and Bangor tightened up in defence approaching half-time, making big tackles on the likes of number 8 Fa'atau and fellow New Zealander Lotu Nuku, Dundalk's excellent hooker.
Trailing 19-0 at the break, Bangor turned around with the wind at their backs but they lost precious ground when they were penalised at an early scrum. The sin-binning of captain Jamie Clegg in the 53rd minute really left them with a mountain to climb.
Shortly afterwards, Dundalk pounced for their fourth try when replacement John Smyth scored from close range. Ultan Murphy stepped up to convert and he also added a penalty to make it 29-0.
There was no sign of the Mill Road men letting up as they tagged on three more tries in a stunning six-minute spell. Place-kicker Murphy brilliantly converted his own effort from the touchline, and James McConnon and replacement Tiernan Gonnelly also made it over the whitewash.
Dundalk's superb scoring haul was wrapped up by Stephen Murphy's 70th-minute try, with Ultan Murphy's conversion taking his contribution for the day to a handsome 20 points.
Brave Bangor battled on and they got over for a deserved try in the dying minutes. Number 8 Curtis Stewart was held up on a powerful drive, but a few phases later winger David Charles touched down out wide.
Following their memorable 50-point success, Dundalk captain MJ McKevitt received the cup from IRFU President Louis Magee as the Co. Louth club added this All-Ireland title to their 2011 Provincial Towns Cup win.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)