On Saturday 27 January, Ashbourne RFC secured back to back All Ireland Junior Cup titles when they came out on top against Tipperary side Kilfeacle RFC. This was a magnificent achievement by the Meath men, backing up last year’s incredible win against Enniscorty, with a hard fought victory against the men from Munster.

The game which was played at Portlaoise RFC, was played in very wet conditions which did not allow for the kind of open game that many might have hoped for.

Ashbourne were led by captain Gavin Kennedy who has played for and captained the Leinster Rugby Junior team. Leinster Junior Hall of Fame inductee and rugby legend, Jeff Mahon also made an appearance from the bench. It’s great to see Mahon still going strong at 47 years.

Kilfeacle were first to put points on the board, when ten minutes into the game, out-half Jamie Heuston kicked a penalty in front of the posts. Kilfeacle had a strong wind advantage in the first half, but failed to use it to their advantage. Just before half-time, through some great play by their back line, Ashbourne full-back Stephen O’Neill scored in the corner, bringing the half-time score to 5 – 3 to Ahsbourne.

On resumption, Ashbourne out-half Donal Crotty and Kilfeacle’s Jamie Heuston traded penalties, to bring the score to 11 – 9, with 20 minutes to go and the rain getting heavier, both teams were still in the game, ensuring that it would be a nail-biting finish. Ten minutes to go, Ashbourne stretched their lead with a try from Donal Crotty. The try was made by Simon Deevy who, when held up short of the try line, passed the ball to Crotty to touch down, Crotty also converting. Leaving the final score 18 – 9 to Ashbourne and back to back All Ireland Junior Cup wins.

Having secured the All Ireland Junior Cup, Ashbourne now have the Leinster League in their sights. They will be delighted with the efforts of their fellow North East Leinster men, Boyne RFC, who drew at home against Enniscorthy RFC. This leaves Ashbourne three points clear at the top of Division 1A. Of course, there is also the small matter of the Provincial Towns Cup to look forward to as well.

Scorers for Ashbourne

Tries: Stephen O’Neill, Donal Crotty

Con: Donal Crotty

Penalties: Donal Crotty (2)

Team: Alan Wall, James McCaghy, Frank Keegan, Sean Kent, Conor Hurley, Simon Deevy, Sean McKeon, Jake Wall, Gavin Kennedy (Capt), Donal Crotty, Colm Craigie, Adam Martin, Jack O’Brien, Casey Dunne, Stephen O’Neill

Subs: Brendan Meehan, Ciaran Roche, Jeff Mahon, Joey Szpara, Mark Rooney, Shane Bass, Matt Connolly