Wicklow crowned Towns Cup Champions
May 9, 2016 12:00 am client
History was made in Ashbourne on Sunday as Wicklow earned the right to etch their name on the prestigious Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup for the first time following a deserving win over pre-match favourites, Enniscorthy.
In what was an open, entertaining and free flowing game, Wicklow were full value to take the spoils as they hit the ground running from the opening minute to put in an all action display that Enniscorthy struggled to deal with.
Niall Earls was once again the main man for the Wicklow men with 18 points including a first half try as Enniscorthy were left to regret an opening half that saw them go in 21-6 down at half time.
As the sun shone down on Ashbourne, it didn’t take long for the opening score to arrive. Only two minutes in, Wicklow full back Stephen Duffy sent forward a neat long punt and before it could reach touch, it was fumbled by Ross Barbour and Wicklow had their first lineout of the game on the Enniscorthy 22.
From that, the pack drove forward with purpose and as they edged closer to the line, lock John Jenkinson grounded the ball and we had our opening score. Niall Earls missed the conversion but nonetheless an impressive start for the Wicklow men who had the aid of the strong breeze.
Enniscorthy got in to the game as it wore on and made a few decent line breaks. They built a few phases between the 10th and 14th minute before they were awarded a penalty five metres out. Ivan Poole nailed the kick and the Wexford men were off the mark.
Wicklow’s defence was solid and they forced numerous penalties from an attack minded Enniscorthy. Wicklow extended their lead to 8-3 on 19 minutes when Earls landed his first points of the day from a 40 metre penalty.
The Wicklow outhalf was finding his groove and he landed a drop goal from the same distance on 29 minutes as the underdogs held an 11-3 lead with 10 minutes left until the break.
Earls was on hand to kick another penalty after 33 minutes when they won a penalty for an Enniscorthy infringement in the scrum. Enniscorthy were well and truly rattled and it was about much more than playing against the strong wind.
Wicklow continued to keep the pressure on. They got over for their second try of the half two minutes before the break with outhalf Niall Earls touching down and converting after Captain Wesley Wojnar had started off a sequence of drives at the try line.
At 21-3, Wicklow didn’t want half time to come but just before it did, Ivan Poole took the three points on offer from a penalty to give Enniscorthy the last say of the half as Wicklow went in 21-6 up.
Enniscorthy had the wind after the resumption and they completely changed the nature of the game before the second half was 15 minutes old. A 15 point half time deficit was back to three points by the 53rd minute with Killian Lett going over in the 50th minute after Ivan Poole had come close and three minutes later, a flowing back line move started by Poole was finished off by winger Ivan Jacob who beat three tackles to finish in the corner. Poole missed the conversion from the touchline but the game was suddenly on its head as Wicklow just about had control at 21-18.
Enniscorthy hooker David Murphy was sent to the bin for 10 minutes on 58 minutes and minutes later, Wicklow struck for an almost carbon copy of their opening try when Barry Hurley took the ball off the back of a lineout as his pack drove him over the line. Earls added the extras and Wicklow had some breathing space again at 28-18.
Poole landed a penalty for Enniscorthy from straight in front of the goals to leave just one score between the sides as the teams entered the final 15 minutes on tender hooks. With Enniscorthy now back to their full compliment, they sought out that all important score.
There was pressure from the Wexford men deep into the some seven minutes of stoppage time but try as they may, they were meeting a brick wall of Wicklow men and that breakthrough just couldn’t be found and Wicklow withstood the pressure to win the Towns cup for the first time in their history.
Wicklow: N Earls 18 points, J Jenkinson and B Hurley 5 points each.
Enniscorthy: I Poole 11 points, K Lett and I Jacob 5 points each.
ENNISCORTHY: R Barbour, I Jacob, K Lett, H O’Neill, D O’Dwyer, I Poole, A Jacob; A Todisco, D Murphy, P Waters, J Bulmer, T Stamp, B Bolger, G Jacob, T Morrissey (J Daly 32m). Replacements: J Daly, P O’Mahony, E Lett, J Kelly and J Doyle.
WICKLOW: S Duffy, J Langtry, K Hurrell, S Farrar, M Higgins, N Earls, D Higgins; T O’Donovan, E Killeen, S Byrne, J Jenkinson, F Walsh, A Doyle, L Gaffney, W Wojnar. Replacements: B Hurley, E Downes, S O’Brien, A Byrne and S Setien
Referee: Gary Conway.