For the second year in a row there was Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup semi-final heartbreak for Clondalkin RFC as they were denied the chance to play in this year’s showpiece by injury time burst from Wicklow RFC.

The game was played in County Carlow FC in terrible conditions.  As the rain pummelled the pitch, the mud and heavy pitch followed leading to a real war of attrition.  By all accounts it looked as if Clondalkin were on route to the final after a Chris Jebb penalty put them 13-11 ahead in the second half.
With scores hard to come by and the Clondalkin defence holding firm, they were eventually breached deep in injury time when Wicklow club Captain Wes Wojner got over for the try to put them 16-13 ahead and into the final.
While it was heartbreak for Clondalkin, there was sheer elation from the Wicklow men who now move on to play Enniscorthy in the final on a date to be confirmed.

Ironically, Wicklow beat Clondalkin in a promotion/relegation play off a few weeks back meaning that if Leinster League 1A champions Enniscorthy win the round robin and qualify for the AIL, Wicklow will gain promotion to 1A.
The game itself on Sunday was a real battle.  It is hard to get across how bad the conditions were.  Jerseys were almost un-recognisable while scores, in the second half in particular, were at a premium.
Clondalkin had led for large portions of the game but when the game was in the melting pot, it was the Wicklow men who dug deep and after a few unsuccessful attempts, they eventually got over deep in injury time to snatch the win and beat a second Division 1A side on route to the final where they will now try and win their maiden Towns Cup.
Clondalkin got a dream start to the game.  With only a minute on the clock, Clondalkin centre Matt Stapleton made the most of a slip up in the Wicklow defence and got in for a try which outhalf Chris Jebb converted to put them 7-0 up in the opening minute. Wicklow responded with some pressure of their own but they couldn’t turn that pressure into points as Clondalkin continued to hold their seven point lead after 20 minutes.

With 15 minutes left in the half, the Clondalkin rearguard was finally broken down and Wicklow got in for their opening score of the game to spark them into life.  Niall Earls missed the conversion but at 7-5, Wicklow were certainly back in the game.
10 minutes later and the Wicklow men had the lead after Earls landed his first points of the game from a penalty to make it 8-7 but from the kick off, they handed the lead straight back to their Dublin opposition. Wicklow conceded a penalty straight from the kick off and Jebb landed an excellent kick from all of 30 metres to put Clondalkin back into the lead 10-8 as half time approached.

Niall Earls missed a chance to get Wicklow back into the lead as his penalty drifted wide and the Clondalkin outfit went in leading 10-8 at the break. As conditions worsened in the second half, the errors increased and the scoring opportunities decreased.

Both kickers did add penalties with Earls giving Wicklow the lead before the trusty Chris Jebb fired the Dublin men back into the lead – 13-11.  Handling errors and stout defences gave an impression that there would be no more scores in the game but nobody could have envisaged what was to come.
In total, 11 minutes of injury time was played in the second half.  An already lung busting game was going on even further and in that 11th minute of added on time, a driving maul from 25 metres out proved too forceful for Clondalkin to keep out and number eight Wes Wojner was the man to claim the try.  The conversion hit the post but in the end that didn’t matter as Wicklow had done enough at the death to give them a three point win and a ticket to the final where they will play the high flying Enniscorthy.
Final score: Wicklow 16, Clondalkin 13.

The teams
Wicklow: 15 Stephen Duffy, 14 Ben Armstrong, 13 Kieran Hurrell, 12 Shane Farrar, 11, Mark Higgins, 10 Niall Earls, 9 Denis Higgins, 1 Timmy Donovan, 2 Eanna Kileen, 3 Shane Byrne, 4 John Jenkinson, 5 Fergal Walsh, 6 Liam Gaffney, 7 Andrew Doyle, 8 Wes Wojnar.  Replacements: Paddy Jameson, Sean O’Brien and Stephen Roberts.
Clondalkin: 15 Alaric Collier, 14 Thomas Anksrs, 13 Barry Mulloy, 12 Matt Stapleton, 11 David Gaule, 10 Chris Jebb, 9 Colm Quinn, 1 Gareth Black, 2 James Kenny, 3 Brian Doyle, 4 Jamie Davis, 5 Paul Nolan, 6 Sean Brennan, Neil Finlay, 8 Simon King.  Replacements: Conor Maloney, Darren Madden, Tom McGrath, John Walshe, Ben Foran.