TULLOW captain Frank Murphy reckons his side are not Towns Cup final "virgins" and that it will stand to them in two weeks time.
TULLOW RFC 17 ASHBOURNE 3
The inspirational second row featured in the final defeat to Navan in 2008 but he says the final against Enniscorthy, with the exception of Carlow, is as close to a derby as Tullow could have asked for.
The history between the sides could stand in Tullows favour in a fortnight if it means they will be bringing the same fire and passion that they showed against Ashbourne on Sunday. Ashbourne were a huge side but their size counted little against a team that wouldn't have been stopped by a whole team of Sean O'brien's.
The opening five minutes did see Ashbourne in possession but they never seemed comfortable, and how could they with Rob Porter and William Hollow O'brien hitting rucks that shook the ground in Cill Dara.
Tullow took command early in the game and forced several penalties from the Ashbourne defence and even though Canavan missed the first one which had been earned by Kyle Hanbidge he thundered over the second for Tullow to lead 3-0.
The maroon and white stripes were then guilty of offside and conceded a penalty for Paul Morris to equalise and amazingly it would be the Meath side's first and last score of the game.
William Canavan's confidence was up on Sunday and the out half had no fear in attempting drop goals once the opportunity presented itself.
They might not have been successful but in the 35th minute of the first half from the same spot as the previous penalties he belted over to give Tullow a 6-3 lead at half time.
The analysis on the Tullow side was blunt. More of the same needed, these Ashbourne boys are big but they still cannot penetrate the Tullow line.
The only worry or concern could have been discipline but for a change it was the opponents who were falling foul of referee John Montayne with Charles Coyle binned before the break for blatantly slowing down the ball.
Two periods in the second half belonged to Ashbourne; firstly between the 10th and 20th minute and secondly the last three minutes and although they owned possession in those periods they still looked like the team defending such was the Tullow force.
In the opening minutes of the second half however Tullow pushed hard for the line.
They would have gone over if more phases had been allowed but instead they forced a penalty and Canavan did the business. At 9-3 Ashbourne needed to respond but for their possession they failed time and again to create any meaningful breaks.
By the 60th minute, out of shear frustration and desperation Ashbourne had two players in the bin and Canavan drove more nails into the coffin with a beautiful penalty for 12-3.
Tullow's hard work and utterly scary determination deserved a try but even a Brian O'driscoll like break from Willie "Cas" O'brien didn't pay off and Darren Dunne's many efforts at breaking the line just weren't reaping the rewards they deserved.
That all changed though when lighting quick Sean Mccarthy went over in the corner for a magnificent try.
The ball may have struck the knee of Darren Dunne before Mccarthy got possession but his run to the line capped off the Tullow effort wonderfully.
Tullow made use of the bench and only the upset of a mass change in personnel gave Ashbourne a glimpse at the try line, and that, coupled with the harsh sin binning of sub Alan Burns afforded the Meath men some dangerous possession but Tullow were defiant, ruthless and all too stubborn to even consider conceding a try.
They held out for the final moments, with William "Hollow" O'brien leading the charge alongside the sensational Aho Bloomfield and between Murphy, the Hanbidge's, Porter, John Roche, Sam Corrigan and Sean Mccarthy, to name but a few, Tullow would not be denied a final spot. TULLOW RFC Kyle Hanbidge, Sam Corrigan, Spencer Hanbidge, Frank Murphy, John Hanbidge, John Roche, Robert Porter, William Hollow O'brien, Aho Bloomfield, Will Canavan, Peter Fitzgerald, Darren Dunne, Alan Deering, Sean Mccarthy, Willie Cas O'brien. Subs Used: Alan Burns, Joey O'connor, Paul Canavan, Colin Finnerty.
ASHBOURNE RFC Frank Keegan, Rory Gleeson, Ciaran Roche, Darragh Curran, Adrian Buckley, Dermot Grimes, Ken Bolster, Jeff Mahon, Gavin Kennedy, Paul Morris, Joe Taylor, Peter Swanipoel, Charles Coyle, Cathal Field, Dermot Colreavy.
VENUE: Cill Dara