An injury time penalty from Enniscorthy out-half Ivan Poole saw the Wexford club clinch the Towns Cup in dramatic fashion at Cill Dara RFC on Sunday.

In a game that only really came to life in the closing 20 minutes, Kilkenny looked to have done enough with David O’Connor’s try in the 70th minute putting them 8-6 ahead.

With the game in added time, Ivan Poole won a crucial turnover inside the Kilkenny 22 and, following on from a subsequent Kilkenny offside, the ice-cool out-half slotted the tricky penalty to deny a brave Kilkenny who have now lost the last two finals having fallen to Ashbourne 12 months ago.

Enniscorthy left it late once again – they scored two late tries in their semi-final win over Dundalk. Their Towns Cup success will take away some of the pain of finishing second in the league, with the club now claiming the trophy for the seventh time.

Kilkenny won Division 1B this season and they will be seeing a lot more of teams like Enniscorthy and Clondalkin (who they beat in the semi final) next season in 1A. 

Their performances in the cup prove that they are well equipped for the elite division in Leinster Junior Rugby and they will look back on another season of progress, despite Sunday’s result.

All the talk before the game was about the two explosive and dynamic backlines, and although we did see both attack with intent, neither could break the others sterling defence. 

Enniscorthy’s discipline was key; particularly in that opening half as Kilkenny were guilty of coughing up some needless penalties.

The game ebbed and flowed. Kilkenny opened the game with the advantage of the strong breeze and Enniscorthy stryggled to get outside their own half of the field. 

Crucially however, Kilkenny, for all their dynamic attacking in that opening half, could only get so far as the Enniscorthy defence held strong and held their discipline.

It was a nervy opening half for both sides with unforced errors and handing errors a feature of the game.  Despite Kilkenny dominating possession and Enniscorthy struggling to get out of their own half it was the champions elect who opened the scoring through a Poole penalty after 35 minutes. 

The penalty was every bit as impressive as his winning kick given the angle and the wind he was kicking into.

Those scoreless 35 minutes came back to haunt the Kilkenny men as they had Enniscorthy on the back foot on numerous occasions while Rory McInerney was wayward with a penalty and a drop goal.

Kilkenny were attacking hard but the Enniscorthy defence was excellent and almost unbreakable. Rory McInerney did land a penalty two minutes before the break to get Kilkenny on the scoreboard as the sides went in level at half-time, 3-3.

With the wind behind them, it was now the turn of the Enniscorthy backline to show their worth and the second half was only four minutes old when Poole landed his second penalty to send his side 6-3 ahead.

Paul Bolger moved from his position on the wing to scrum-half for the second half to take over from the injured Evan Lett and he did a sterling job at the heel of a pack led by the evergreen Declan O’Brien. 

Enniscorthy had a few chances of their own to extend their lead but the large crowd were seeing two exciting and in form backlines struggling to find a breakthrough.

Kilkenny refused to wilt and they began to claw their way back into the game. They kept their try-line intact despite heavy pressure and with 10 minutes left they got the only try of the game as they drove their maul over the line from 10 metres out for captain David O’Connor to ground the ball. 

Rory McInerney was faced with an extremely tough conversion and he failed to hit the target but Steve Ashmore’s men still held an 8-6 lead with 10 minutes left.

Enniscorthy threw everything into finding a winning score. They were being met by a stern and resolute Kilkenny defence.

As they defended their line with the clock moving into injury time, Kilkenny switched off momentarily and Poole won a turnover inside the Kilkenny 22 that led to his winning penalty to claim glory for Enniscorthy.

Declan O’Brien was awarded the man of the match award but he was ably assisted by the excellent Ivan Poole at out-half. Ivan Jacob looked dangerous on the wing, while Bolger took the scrum-half slot in his stride.

Kilkenny had David O’Connor at number 8 in excellent form, while their centre partnership of Darren O’Brien and Padraig Mahon were explosive all afternoon.

Final score: Enniscorthy RFC 9 Kilkenny RFC 8


Enniscorthy:  Ivan Poole 3 pens.

Kilkenny:  David O’Connor 1 try, Rory McInerney 1 pen.

ENNISCORTHY:  Ross Barbour; Ivan Jacob, Killian Lett, Daniel Pim, Paul Bolger; Ivan Poole, Evan Lett; James Doyle, David Murphy, Paddy Waters; Declan O’Brien, Thomas Stamp; Sean Wall, Tom Ryan, Timmy Morrissey.  Replacements:  Hugh O’Neill (for Evan Lett inj 33m), Evan Lett (for Hugh O’Neill H/T), Hugh O’Neill (for Evan Lett inj 43m), Alan Jacob (for Tom Ryan 60m), Angelo Todisco (for David Murphy 60m), Damien McCabe (for Sean Wall 80m)

KILKENNY:  Liam Caddy; Joe Manuel, Padraig Mahon, Darren O’Brien, Sean Moran; Rory McInerney, Dearean McGrath; Wayne Kavanagh, Jason Connolly, Martin Leahy; Wes Carter, Andy Nyenhuis; Ray Pembroke, John Phelan, David O’Connor.  Replacements:  Tom Cuddihy (for David O’Connor temp 62-65m), Tom Cuddihy (for Ray Pembroke 70m), Robbie Walsh (for Dearean McGrath 80m), Darren Bawle (for Wayne Kavanagh 80m).

Referee:  Tim Townend.