The 17th running of the Popplewell Cup took place on Saturday in extremely windy but thankfully dry conditions, with Wexford the eventual winners…

The Popplewell Cup is hosted by Gorey RFC annually with support from the Popplewell family. All ten Under-12 Leinster South East teams are invited and this year’s guests were defending Champions Navan and Waterpark, our first Munster entrant.

It was Waterpark Gorey faced in the opening game with Gorey needing a strong opener. Tries by Chris Martin and Kevin Harrington without reply saw Gorey off to a dream start. Reversal came in the next game against South-East champions Wexford. Despite the wind advantage Gorey were stunned to leak two early break-away tries. They then had to claw their way back into the game with their physically larger pack the platform. Captain Paul Boyle led by example by scoring Gorey’s first before Dan O’Leary’s physical strength at second centre produced the equaliser. Gorey pressed hard for the winner and had much of the second half possession before Wexford sealed the match 3-2 with a late try.

Gorey now had to win their two remaining pool games to progress. Their pack’s physical strength told in proving too strong for an smaller New Ross team, Gorey winning 3-1. Enniscorthy and Gorey have had incredibly close games over the last couple of years with Enniscorthy winning a fortnight ago in the Leinster qualifiers. The game was incredibly tight and looked poised for a nil all draw. Gorey again had much of the possession but it took a lovely angled run at first centre by Lee McCabe off a ruck close in to decide the game in the dying minutes.

Gorey were now in the semi-final against Kilkenny. Kilkenny matched size in the pack with pace in the backs and with tiring legs Gorey struggled to contain them. 3-0 down they put huge effort in to pull one back when Kilkenny finally succumbed to Achille O’Neill’s swashbuckling pick and drive off a ruck.

Gorey’s cup hopes were over. But pride was restored by a 3-1 victory in the 3rd place play off against a tired and number depleted Navan side.

Congratulations to Wexford who won the trophy for the first time against Kilkenny in a tense final by scoring the first try in a 2-2 encounter. Thanks again to the Popplewell family and to all who helped on the day in South East’s rugby premier Under-12 sporting fixture.