ENNISCORTHY CLOGHER VALLEY
ENNISCORTHY'S RUGBY star continues to rise and as a club they continue to make massive strides. The Provincial Towns Cup winners of 2012 are now facing the biggest day in the club's 100-year history after they reached the All-Ireland Junior Cup final with an impressive win against the Ulster Junior Cup champions, Clogher Valley, at Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone, on Saturday last.
Although the match was played in wet conditions on a sticky pitch, the visitors' back line scored three excellent tries. However, most of the credit for victory must go to the Enniscorthy forwards who more than matched the bigger Clogher Valley unit.
Clogher started well and, playing with the wind, kicked a penalty after ten minutes. Enniscorthy eventually settled into their pattern of running the ball at every given opportunity and eventually this enterprise paid off after 20 minutes. Scrum-half Alan Jacob broke down the blind side and off-loaded the ball to prop Ciarán Murphy whose excellent pass put lock Seán Wall through a gap. Wall's pace broke him through two tackles before off-loading to winger Ivan Jacob who dived over in the left corner. Ivan Poole converted a superb conversion from the touchline.
Ten minutes later, Enniscorthy struck again for another try and it was 19-year-old right wing David Dunne who created the score when he tapped a penalty on the halfway line. His blinding pace allowed him to beat three defenders before he transferred inside to Ivan Jacob who raced in under the posts from 20 metres.
Ivan Poole converted again, putting the visitors eleven points ahead. Poole added three points with another penalty just after Clogher had kicked their second penalty. Clogher came back into the game and scored an excellent try in the left corner just on half-time to leave the score 17-11 for the visitors.
The second-half was a much more even affair with the big home pack thriving in the wet conditions. However, despite losing flanker Tony Ryan through injury the Enniscorthy pack stood firm and were more than a match for their opponents. Enniscorthy were awarded a penalty from wide out ten minutes into the second period which Poole converted with an excellent strike.
Clogher were persistent and with only ten minutes left they kicked a penalty to leave just six points between the sides and set up a nervous finish, although Enniscorthy responded immediately with a well-executed try straight from the training ground which sealed the victory.
From a scrum inside the visitors' 22-metre line, Alan Jacob transferred to Poole who dummied to go outside before transferring inside to David O'Dwyer. He had work to do but a gap opened and in a flash he was in under the posts before a hand was laid on him. Poole converted, keeping his 100% record (five kicks out of five). With the last play of the game, Clogher scored a consolation try in the corner but it was too late for them.
Enniscorthy now play Division 1A champions Tullamore who are the current Irish Junior Cup champions in the final on Saturday, February 9. The venue has yet to be announced although at the time of going to press it could be Carlow, Kilkenny or Cill Dara.
Team manager David Wrafter described it as 'a super win because the conditions didn't really suit our style, but the lads were magnificent'.
'The fact that it is a complete home-grown team is even more satisfying. Unfortunately, we lost our leading talisman, Tony Ryan, with an ankle injury early in the second-half and he will now probably miss the final, which is a pity for him. We will miss him but we have a strong squad.
'Tullamore have beaten us in the league already. They will go into the final as the favourites but we have a terrific tradition in cup competitions and we will be up for it. In fact, the lads are already looking forward to the final. I would like to thank our loyal supporters who made the journey last Saturday,' he added.
Team: Paddy Waters, Luke Goff, Ciarán Murphy, Declan O'Brien, Seán Wall, Tony Ryan, Mitchel Dalton, Timmy Morrissey, Alan Jacob, Peter Kerins, Ivan Jacob, Ivan Poole, Ross Barbour (capt.), David Dunne, Richard Dunne. Subs. - Johnny Leech for Ryan (25), Naoise Dunbar for Morrissey (60), John Bracken for O'Brien (65), Fiacre Ryan for D. Dunne (65), Evan Lett for Kerins (70), David O'Dwyer for I. Jacob (70), Robbie O'Connor for Murphy (70).