There was late drama in Edenderry RFC on Sunday when Ashbourne RFC were denied a place in the Towns Cup Final at the death as Tullow struck with a try deep into injury time.

It was an unbelievable finish to the game with Richie Nichols’ try at the end securing a final meeting with Skerries seconds.

Ashbourne had come back from being 15-17 behind to lead 19-15 in the closing stages before Tullow struck gold.

The Tullow men were intense throughout and were no doubt spurred on by the presence of Sean O’Brien on the sideline.

Sean OBrien

It was a full-blooded affair with no quarter asked or given.

Both sides were nervy and testing the water in the early stages and that was typified by a scoreless opening 21 minutes.

Tullow were first off the mark when the in-form Stephen Smith got in for the first of his brace of tries.

The conversion was missed but Tullow were off the mark and leading 5-0.

It only took Ashbourne seven minutes to respond when James Rooney went over after excellent work from Casey Dunne who had chipped ahead.

Gavin Kennedy landed the conversion and suddenly Ashbourne now had the momentum.

Leinster Provincial Towns Cup

Just as it looked like the sides would go into the break separated by only two points, Smith struck for his second try of the game three minutes before half-time.

This time Ryan O’Neill nailed the conversion and the lead had swung again with the Carlow men leading 12-7 at the interval.

The second half also started with a prolonged period without a score – 20 minutes passed before O’Neill kicked a penalty to make it a two score game.

With 14 minutes to go, Ashbourne roared back into the game.

Some suspect defending allowed Donal Crotty get in the corner and ground the ball with the conversion from Kennedy barely wide of the target.

Leinster Provincial Towns Cup

At 15-12, Tullow were still in the lead but that was all about the change.

As the Carlow men put on the pressure, they let their defensive duties slip. Simon Deevy quick-tapped a penalty on the 22 and barged over the line before a Kennedy conversion had the Meath club leading 19-15.

A yellow card for Ashbourne gave Tullow a glimmer of hope  and with six minutes of injury time played they made use of the extra man and the man of the hour Nichols went over in the corner.

The conversion went wide, but it was the last action of the game.

Tullow rejoiced. Ashbourne fell agonisingly short.

Leinster Provincial Towns Cup

Tullow RFC 20 Ashbourne RFC 19

TULLOW: 15. Sean Doyle; 14. Ryan O’Neill, 13. Shane Rohan, 12. Aho Bloomfield, 11. Richard Nichols; 10. William Cass O’Brien, 9. Dylan Leybourne; 1. Louis Kilcoyne, 2. Sam Corrigan, 3. Scott Caldbeck; 4. Frank Murphy, 5. Joe Waters, 6. Kyle Hanbidge, 7. John Hanbidge, 8. Stephen Smith.

Replacements: Aaron Byrne, Martin Cole, John Fitzgerald, William Holla O’Brien, Jedd Pratt, James O Brien.

ASHBOURNE: 15. Stephen O’Neill; 14. Dermot Colreavy, 13. Adam Martin, 12. Jack O’Brien, 11. Casey Dunne; 10. Donal Crotty, 9. Gavin Kennedy (Capt.); 1. Jake Wall, 2. Simon Deevy, 3. James Rooney; 4. Ciaran Roche, 5. Sean Kent; 6. Mark Behan, 7. James McCaghy, 8. Alan Wall.

Replacements: Danny Norton, Frank Keegan, Mark Rooney, Matt Connolly, Kelan Toolan, and Mitchell O’Meara