Provincial Towns Cup Swings Into Action This Weekend
January 21, 2015 12:00 am client
The Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup begins this weekend as 22 teams begin their quest for cup glory in 2015.
Along with those fighting it out this weekend, four teams have been awarded byes to the second round, namely Dundalk, who lead the pack in Division 1A, Newbridge, who are struggling at the bottom of Division 1B, Ashbourne, the reigning champions and Skerries 2nd XV.
There are no shortage of tasty cup ties with local derbies and divisional rivalries all represented.
The Provincial Towns cup remains a prestigious accolade in Leinster Junior Rugby and 2015 sees the competition entering its 90th year with Co. Carlow leading the roll of honour with 12 wins.
Last year’s beaten finalists, Kilkenny will be eager to get back on the trail and they have a home game to look forward to on Sunday when they take on fellow Division 1B side, Co. Carlow.
These sides have contrasting league form with the Kilkenny men leading the charge at the top while the Carlow men sit seventh in the Division. All signs would point towards the Marble City men, especially with them having home advantage but the beauty of the cup means nothing can be taken for granted.
Division 2A leaders, North Kildare, face a tricky away tie when they travel to take on 2013 runners-up, Longford.
Longford men currently lie sixth and third from bottom in 1B, the division ahead of North Kildare and when two teams like this come together, home advantage can often sway the momentum.
One of the tournament favourites and 2012 champions, Enniscorthy also face a tricky away task to in an in-form Edenderry who are the runaway leaders at the top of Division 2B. There may be three divisions between them but Enniscorthy will have to be on their guard to leave the Offaly club with a win.
There is an all Wexford affair in New Ross as the home side welcome Wexford Wanderers. New Ross sit in fourth place in Division 2A while Wanderers are currently sitting behind Division 3 leaders Balbriggan with a game in hand.
The stand out ties include Division 1B Tullow at home to Division 1A Cill Dara which could be a very tight call between two form sides, and the clash of Division 2B league leaders and potential giant killers, Edenderry and one of the main contenders, Enniscorthy.
There is a local derby along the Laois and Tipperary border when Roscrea play host to Portlaoise. Only two places separate these sides in Division 2A and this looks to be one of the hardest games to pick a winner from. Portlaoise have the better league form but the Roscrea men are at home and previously reached the semi-final back in 2013.
Title holder Ashbourne received a bye into round two while last years runners up Kilkenny face a south east derby with Co. Carlow at Foulkestown.
The two form sides in Division 2A have tough away trips with North Kildare away to 2013 finalists Longford and Mullingar facing a difficult test away to Division 1B leaders Gorey.
Wicklow will be expected to come away with the spoils when they visit the Midland Warriors in Moate with two divisions separating the sides. Wicklow are pushing for promotion in Division 1B while the Warriors are stuck in mid-table in Division 3.
With Gorey promotion hunting in 1B and Mullingar likewise from 2A, the clash of these sides in Gorey will also serve up an interesting 80 minutes of rugby. Mullingar are a club on the up both on and off the field and like the home side, are a team brimming with confidence.
Tullow hosted the final in 2014 and although languishing in mid table in 1B, they will fancy their chances at home of turning over Division 1A side Cill Dara who themselves are struggling for form in the top tier.
The second teams of senior sides – Naas, Navan and Boyne are all at home in their respective games but face tough opposition. Portarlington face the short trip to Naas on the back of decent league form in 2A, while second in Division 2B Athy cross into Meath for the challenge of Navan.
Boyne’s second XV are bottom of the Metro League Division 2 and they look to have the toughest task when Division 1A side Clondalkin come to visit.
The full list of fixtures are as follows (First named teams are at home and all games take place at 2.30pm on Sunday, 25th January):
Naas v Portarlington
Midland Warriors v Wicklow
Navan v Athy
Longford v North Kildare
Roscrea v Portlaoise
New Ross v Wexford Wanderers
Boyne v Clondalkin
Kilkenny v Co Carlow
Tullow v Cill Dara
Edenderry v Enniscorthy
Gorey v Mullingar
First Round Bye