Tuesday 20 March 2018

Clogher scalped by sparkling Skerries

It's that time of the year when every weekend seems to contain important games. This one is no exception with the Provincial Towns Cup semi-finals down for decision on Sunday, while Skerries quest to return to the AIL continues tomorrow in Limerick.

Skerries laid down a huge marker in their opening AIL Round Robin encounter last Saturday, when they hammered Ulster champions Clogher Valley 41-0 at Holmpatrick, scoring five tries in the process to ensure a maximum five-point haul.

Scrum-half Chris Keane scored a well-worked try as the home side established a healthy 13-0 interval lead. The floodgates opened after the break, with touchdowns from wingers Paul Devitt and Kevin McGrath and a brace from hooker Chris Tonge.

The Co Dublin side travel to Limerick tomorrow to take on Munster titleholders Richmond, who lost their opener 29-20 in Monivea, and Skerries should be good enough to return home with the victory that will set up a winner-takes-all clash against the Connacht champions.

The focus of attention then switches to the Provincial Towns Cup semi-finals on Sunday, as Tullow take on Ashbourne in Cill Dara RFC and Newbridge tackle Enniscorthy in Kilkenny RFC.

Enniscorthy, with five victories, the last in 1989, are the only surviving team to have won the fabled pot, while Ashbourne (1999) and Tullow (2008) have made it to one final apiece.

This is the first time that Newbridge have made it as far as the penultimate stage since they were formed by the merger of the Curragh and Old Kilcullen in 1995.

Newbridge and Enniscorthy have met twice already this season in Division 1A of the Leinster League, managing a win each.

They finished level on 36 points in the league with seven wins apiece, so a competitive and open clash is in prospect.

The other semi-final is an all Division 1B affair, and Ashbourne hold the whip-hand here with a pair of league wins.

But Tullow will take solace from the fact that their recent Towns Cup pedigree is impressive -- they also reached the semi-final stage a year ago.

Finally, there were important Leinster League playoffs last weekend with Dundalk (Division 1A/1B), Tullow (Division 1B/2A), Mullingar (Division 2A/2B) and Balbriggan (Division 2B/3) recording victories.

Wanderers came from behind to win 25-18 in Navan on Saturday, lifting themselves off the bottom of AIL Division 2B for the first time since the early season.

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