Leinster League rivals meet in All-Ireland Junior Cup Final
January 27, 2017 11:00 am Site Editor
This competition, which began in 2006, has become a huge part of the Junior Rugby calendar.
The Cup is a straight knock-out tournament with the previous season’s top four Junior sides from each province going into the 16-team draw with the 1st round taking place in October.
The final will be held in Donnybrook Stadium for the first time this year as Leinster is providing both finalists.
Enniscorthy will go into the final as favourites having overcome Ashbourne on two occasions in this season’s Leinster League.
However, it was the Ashbourne men who came out on top when the sides met in the semi-final of the 2014 Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup, which the Meath side went on to win.
They will be hoping that this recent cup success will give their charges the confidence to go on and lift another trophy on Saturday.
Enniscorthy though have plenty of recent success of their own to inspire both players and supporters. Indeed, the Wexford outfit won this competition in 2014 when they defeated Clogher Valley RFC in a tight final in Coolmine.
And they repeated that feat again during an incredible campaign last season when they had a comfortable victory against Instonians RFC in a final that was, coincidentally, played in Ashbourne.
On that occasion the All Ireland Junior Cup trophy was the first in a remarkable treble that saw both their first and second teams crowned league champions.
For Ashbourne this has truly been an All-Ireland affair as they have played clubs from the other three provinces en route to the final.
They travelled to Westport RFC in October and overcame the westerners by a score of 28-10. That victory earned them a home quarter-final against Bandon RFC in November.
Coming off the back of some good league form they put in a convincing performance to beat the Munster outfit 33-8.
They were again at home in their semi-final in December but this was a much closer game with a big home crowd helping them to a 20-19 win over Clogher.
First up for Enniscorthy was a comprehensive 74-0 victory over NUI Galway RFC.
This set up another home fixture against a spirited Ballyclare RFC and, coming off the back of a nine-try victory against Monkstown in the league, ‘Scorthy were convincing winners again, the game finishing 31-13.
They travelled to Kirwan Park to take on De La Salle Palmerstown in their semi-final and this turned out to be a really high quality shootout with the Wexford men outscoring their hosts 34-26.
Although Enniscorthy got the better of Saturday’s opponents in both league fixtures this season they were close games with a total of 15 tries being run in.
Ashbourne come into the game off the back of a confident 25-14 win in Dundalk while Enniscorthy dominated their local derby beating Gorey 32-0 at Ross Road.
The two sides will meet in Donnybrook Stadium this Saturday (KO 2.30pm), and if their previous fixtures in this season’s All-Ireland Junior Cup are anything to go by, this promises to be a cracker.
All-Ireland Junior Cup Final
Ashbourne RFC v Enniscorthy RFC (Saturday, 28th January, Donnybrook Stadium, KO 2.30pm)
Route to the final
1st Round: Enniscorthy RFC 74 NUI Galway RFC 0; Westport 10 Ashbourne RFC 28
Quarter-final: Ashbourne RFC 33 Bandon 8; Enniscorthy RFC 31 Ballyclare 13
Semi-final: Ashbourne RFC 20 Clogher Valley 19; De La Salle Palmerston 26 Enniscorthy RFC 34
2016 – Enniscorthy
2015 – Dundalk
2014 – Enniscorthy
2013 – Tullamore
2012 – Tullamore
2011 – Crosshaven
2010 – City of Derry
2009 – Tullamore
2008 – Navan
2007 – Seapoint
2006 – Rainey Old Boys