Enniscorthy RFC made a massive statement on Sunday when they eliminated Leinster League Division 1A champions and All-Ireland League hopefuls, Ashbourne RFC, from the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup at Cill Dara RFC.
This was a battle of the top two junior rugby teams in Leinster with Ashbourne winning the league and Enniscorthy finishing second.
Coming into the game, Ashbourne had their eggs in a few baskets with a round-robin series to qualify for the All-Ireland League ongoing. This was always going to be a game that Enniscorthy fancied. It was away from the league and a one-off shot at turning over the team that denied them the league title.
While an Ashbourne defeat was a surprise after the fantastic season the Meath club has had, it was not a massive shock given the quality of the Enniscorthy team and how competitive they were in the league.
It was the Wexford men’s best performance of the season as they ran in five tries to breeze into the final in Wicklow 29th April. There they will take on Tullow in a repeat of the 2013 final in which Enniscorthy came out on top.
‘Scorthy had early chances from out-half Ivan Poole that were wide of the mark but they did strike first when Tom Ryan crossed for the first try after an impressive series of pick-and-drives. Poole landed the conversion and they led 7-0.
Despite playing with the wind, Enniscorthy were struggling to add to their lead but right on the stroke of half-time, they got the vital second try when referee Colm Roche awarded them a penalty try after Ashbourne repeatedly collapsed the scrum. The extras were added from Poole and the Wexford men went into the break with a 14-0 advantage.
Now facing into the wind, Enniscorthy didn’t let that get in their way. Poole landed a straightforward penalty to make it 17-0 shortly after half-time.
Fifteen scoreless minutes followed before Enniscorthy got in for their third try. Good work from a lineout by Nick Doyle and Timmy Morrissey allowed Ivan Jacob to skip past his man and go over for another five points as they led 22-0 with 20 minutes to go.
Although they began to tire, Ashbourne were not prepared to lie down. They camped themselves inside Enniscorthy’s 22 for the next five minutes but the Wexford club held them out.
With seven minutes to go, Tomas Stamp, Killian Lett and Daniel Pim were all involved to free Dave O’Dwyer to run in their fourth try and with Ivan Poole proving accurate with the conversion, they led 29-0 in the closing stages.
The Meath men grabbed a consolation try from Brendan Meehan but the winners had the last say of the game with Ivan Jacob running in under the posts for his second try of the day before Killian Lett added the conversion to sign off on a hugely impressive, all-action display from Enniscorthy.
At Cill Dara RFC – Enniscorthy RFC 36 Ashbourne RFC 5
Enniscorthy RFC: 15. Richard Dunne; 14. Ivan Jacob, 13. Daniel Pim, 12. Hughie O’Neill, 11. David O’Dwyer; 10. Ivan Poole, 9. Arthur Dunne; 1. Angelo Todisco, 2. Davy Murphy, 3. Paddy Waters; 4. Tomas Stamp, 5. John Daly; 6. Timmy Morrissey, 7. Tom Ryan, 8. Nick Doyle.
Replacements: Tom Farrar, Tony White, Joe Bulmer, John Daly, Ross Barbour, Killian Lett, Hughie O’Neill.
Ashbourne RFC: 15. Stephen O’Neill; 14. Casey Dunne, 13. Jack O’Brien, 12. Mark Rooney, 11. Colm Craigie; 10. Adam Martin, 9. Conor McNally; 1. Alan Wall, 2. Brendan Meehan, 3. Ciaran Roche; 4. Sean Kent, 5. Conor Hurley; 6. Jake Wall, 7. Sean McKeon, 8. Simon Deevy.
Replacements: Shane Boland, Frank Keegan, Josef Szpara, Shane Bass, Donal Crotty.