Thursday 22 March 2018

Ashbourne and Tullow escape in Cup classics

Tullow's Alan Deering and Ashbourne's Paul Morris wrote themselves into Provincial Towns Cup lore when they both scored in injury time to propel their clubs into Sunday week's semi-finals.

Their clubs were on the verge of exiting this season's competition when the decisive match-winning scores arrived to agonisingly deprive Roscrea and Cill Dara of wins they'd seemed assured of, and they will now be joined in the semi-finals by Newbridge and Enniscorthy.

Those semi-final pairings are Tullow v Ashbourne, which will be played in Cill Dara RFC, and Newbridge v Enniscorthy. The meeting of the two remaining Division 1A clubs has been fixed for Kilkenny RFC.

Tullow were losing 15-12 when they won a scrum against the head near the Roscrea line and, following a number of recycles, outside centre Deering burst through a gap to touchdown for the only try of the game.

Out-half Willie Canavan added the conversion to go with his three earlier penalty goals and first-half drop goal that signalled the host's return to the penultimate stage for the second year in a row on a 19-15 scoreline.

Roscrea pivot John Lillis had kicked five penalty goals.

Paul Morris' heroics for Ashbourne came on the back of a tremendous effort by the Co Meath club who played most of the game with 14 men after an early red card. But they refused to buckle and in fact led 3-0 at the interval. Cill Dara full-back Barry Flanagan scored the only try soon after and with 12 minutes remaining the home side held a four-point lead.

But Morris kicked his third penalty goal soon after, the New Zealand fly-half stepping forward to blast a monstrous 50-metre effort straight between the posts with the last kick of the game for a famous 12-10 victory.

Newbridge held off a brave Kilkenny challenge by 20-15 at their Rosetown home.

Padraig Mahon scored the decisive try as the hosts prevailed despite No 8 Philip Ryan's two tries for the visitors.

Newbridge were 10-5 in front at half-time.


Enniscorthy got off to a flier of a start in their 13-12 home victory over recently-crowned Division 1A League champions Skerries when centre Ross Barbour scored an early try that 20-year-old out-half Jack Kelly converted.

Scrum-half Chris Keane kicked well for the visitors, but Kelly, showing maturity way beyond his years, kicked his side to victory.

Skerries' opportunity to return to the All-Ireland League after a six-year gap takes centre stage tomorrow when they host Ulster champions Clogher Valley at Holmpatrick in the first of three games in the All-Ireland Provincial League Championship.

With two home games in the round robin, hopes are high that the Leinster League Division 1A winners will successfully make it back to the big time.

Our best wishes go with them.

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