Enniscorthy RFC crowned 2018 Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup champions
April 30, 2018 8:00 am Site Editor
Enniscorthy RFC landed a third Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup title in seven years, and their eighth in total on Sunday when they got the better of Tullow RFC in a high octane and intense final.
Held at the impeccable Wicklow RFC, the Wexford men went some way to making up for finishing as runners-up in the league and ended the season with the most coveted Cup in Leinster Junior Rugby.
With three tries over the 80 minutes, the Wexford men who were last champions in 2015 and, before that, 2012 when they beat Tullow also, were the better team over the course of the game but they were made fight all the way by a Tullow outfit aiming to be the first team to win back to back Towns Cups since Boyne in 2009 and 2010.
Enniscorthy played the opening half with the aid of a strong breeze and they set to work early on. After going close to crossing in the fifth minute, they hadn’t long to wait for their first score. With eight minutes on the clock and after some initial impressive work from Tomas Stamp, Killian Lett fed David O’Dwyer who avoided a couple of tackles to race over the line. Ivan Poole added the extras and they were set up nicely with a 7-0 lead.
With Tullow feeling the pressure early on, Enniscorthy struck for a second try on 13 minutes. The forwards made ground and the ball was spread wide. Lett set it up with a crash ball before Ivan Poole fed Ivan Jacob who was hitting the line at speed and he shrugged off numerous tackles to get over the line and grounded the ball in the corner. Poole was unable to kick the extras but at 12-0 with not even a quarter of an hour gone, Enniscorthy had a strong foundation to build on.
The next 20 minutes were scoreless until Poole added a penalty after Joe Waters was penalised for playing the ball on the ground and the Division 1A outfit were cruising at 15-0.
Tullow gave themselves a big shot in the arm two minutes before half-time. A five-metre lineout was won by Stephen Smith and after a few phases, it was prop forward Scott Caldbeck who had the vision and initiative to take the ball off the back of the ruck and touch down on the goal pad for their opening score of the game.
William Canavan added the extras and, suddenly, Tullow had themselves back in the game. Enniscorthy still led 15-7 at half-time but they now had a revitalised Tullow on their heels.
With the breeze now favouring the Carlow men and the added bonus of that try just before half-time, the second half was primed for a big battle. Enniscorthy came into the game with a free-scoring reputation while Tullow, although carved open a few times in the opening half, came with their defence as their trump card.
The final 40 minutes was there to be played with the Towns Cup very much in the balance. While Tullow needed scores, there was no sign of them coming and Enniscorthy remained in the driving seat with no score for either side after 24 minutes of the second half.
Then, on 65 minutes, Tullow out-half William Canavan landed a routine penalty to make it a five-point game with 15 minutes to play. Two minutes later and the gap was only two points with Canavan landing another penalty. Tullow showed real grit and determination to turn it into a two-point game with 13 minutes to play with both penalties awarded when they were down to 14 men.
Who would blink first in the closing stages? In the end, there was to be only one more score but it was a significant one as it sealed the cup for Enniscorthy. With eight minutes to go, Paddy Waters made ground and, after Arthur Dunne picked out Nick Doyle at first receiver, the number 8 showed nifty footwork to weave his way over the line. Lett missed the conversion meaning it remained a one-score game at 20-13.
In the end, Tullow fought hard but couldn’t find the score they needed to force extra time and the Enniscorthy men held on in Wicklow to deservedly win their eight Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup. Enniscorthy’s Timmy Morrissey was crowned Man of the Match, and the award for Top Try Scorer for the tournament also went to Ivan Jacob.
Enniscorthy RFC 20 (David O’Dwyer, Ivan Jacob and Nick Doyle try each; Ivan Poole 1 pen and 1 con) Tullow RFC 13 (Scott Caldbeck try, William Canavan 2 pens and 1 con)
Tullow RFC: Cillian Redmond, Shane Rohan, Paul Stephenson, Augustine Mafoe, Keiaho Bloomfield, William Canavan, Garret Fitzgerald, Scott Caldbeck, Sam Corrigan, Louis Kilcoyne, Frank Murphy, Joe Waters, Kyle Hanbridge, John Hanbridge, Stephen Smith.
Replacements: Aaron O’Byrne, Charlie Ward, William O Brien, Jack Mc Donald, Dylan Leighburn.
Enniscorthy RFC: Richard Dunne, Ivan Jacob, David O’Dwyer, Killian Lett, Daniel Pim, Ivan Poole, Arthur Dunne, Angelo Todisco, Davy Murphy, Paddy Waters, Tomas Stamp, Joe Bulmer, Timmy Morrissey, Tom Ryan, Nick Doyle.
Replacements: John Daly, Hughie O’Neill, Tom Farrar, Tony White, Ross Barbour.