Seconds eyeing their own glory
IT was Ashbourne 2nds' turn to take centre stage on Sunday and they have nearly emulated their first-team colleagues after reaching the semi-finals of the Seconds Towns Cup for the first time.
The 2nds side that took the field was missing a few regulars like Phil Hall, Darragh Hanratty, Shane Eoin and Keith Kennedy, but the youngsters easily filled their shoes, showing a great depth at the club.
The back row consisted of two of the Under 19 team - Jake Wall and Sean McKeon - along with Neil Quigley who is not much older, but this trio looked very much at home and played really well.
A bright start saw Ashbourne, playing with the wind, take a five-point lead after a mere five minutes when Mitchell O'Meara went over in the right corner after receiving a pass from Randle. Toolan was off target with the extra two points from a difficult angle.
Ashbourne stretched the lead in the 20th minute when, following great work from the backline, with Kent, Keogh and Toolan prominent, a penalty was awarded on the five-metre line after Mitchell was stopped.
Randle tapped and went and recycled to Keogh who drove to the line. From the ruck Randle got the ball and dummied to the right and dived over the line for an unconverted try.
A few minutes later Toolan converted a penalty to stretch the lead to 13-0, but County Carlow worked hard to turn the tide and just before half-time Ashbourne had Gallagher yellow-carded to give the tie a slightly different complexion.
The second half saw Co Carlow using the wind and putting the pressure on the home side, but they failed to register a score and on 50 minutes, following an excellent rolling maul, Ashbourne loose head Boylan drove over the line from close in, with Page in support.
At 18-0 you would have thought that Ashbourne were home, but Co Carlow had other ideas and in the next 12 minutes they added 10 points with no reply through a well taken converted try and penalty.
Suddenly, Ashbourne started looking vulnerable, but with the help of fresh legs from the bench they secured victory just after the hour mark when a break by Cahill found Keogh in support. He offloaded to Kent who eventually put Brennan in at the left corner. Toolan converted to stretch the lead to 25-10.
In the aftermath of that score one of the Carlow centres was red-carded for saying something to the referee.
The 14 men reacted by scoring a soft unconverted try, but despite seven minutes of injury time it was too little too late and a quick turnaround sees Ashbourne play Tullow in Clondalkin at 3pm next Sunday for a place in the final.
ASHBOURNE: Conor Brennan, Mitchell O'Meara, Dan Cahill, Ciaran Glennon, Rory Scanlon, Niall Quigley, Colm Randle, Diarmuid Williams, Martin Gallagher, Alan Wall, Adrian Buckley, Adam Page, Sean McKeon, Chris Scanlon, Jake Wall. Replacements: Daniel Norton, Ciaran Boylan, Shane Keogh, Sean Kent, Keelan Toolan.