NEXT weekend's showdown with Portarlington is now almost a must-win for Ashbourne after the Division 1B strugglers found runaway leaders Tullow too hot to handle at Milltown House on Sunday.
ASHBOURNE 19 TULLOW 35
NEXT weekend's showdown with Portarlington is now almost a must-win for Ashbourne after the Division 1B strugglers found runaway leaders Tullow too hot to handle at Milltown House on Sunday. The champions elect, who had a competitive game the previous week, showed their worth with a clinical victory which in reality they had secured within 20 minutes, while the home side were still shaking off the festive season cobwebs and were very slow of the mark. Tullow were on the scoreboard within two minutes with a penalty, and they followed that with a converted try in the left corner three minutes later. Poor tackling was at the route of the problem for a number of the tries for the home side, while the sin-binning of Cathal Field for a late tackle in the 10th minute did not help things. Tullow added three points with the penalty that resulted from that particular infringement and they added their second converted try three minutes later to take the score to 20-0. Ashbourne's set piece continued to hold up well, however, and they put the Tullow scrum under pressure, with Ciaran Roche, James McCaghy and Alan Wall fronting up well. Darragh Curran and Mark Rooney were strong in the lineout also and although it was a poor day overall for the home side there were positives. One of those was the kicking of Casey Dunne who enjoyed a 100% record with the boot. He added six points in the 17th and 20th minutes, but Tullow always looked like scoring again and after adding a penalty of their own they followed up with a third try in the 31st minute. At that point Adam Sherrard was introduced in place of Field and Dunne added two more penalties towards the end of the half to give Ashbourne a glimmer of hope, now trailing 30-12. The second half saw more commitment from Ashbourne and they actually won the half, scoring a converted try through James Rooney after great work by the pack, with Tullow scoring their bonus point try but failing with the conversion. Eugene Gallagher and Adrian Buckley also got a run for Ashbourne during this half. Overall, Tullow were deserving of their win, while Ashbourne are capable of more. Their set piece remains a weapon, but they really need to up their game for next Sunday's game against Portarlington, who are five points ahead of them. A win is essential to keep alive their hopes of avoiding the relegation play-off and if the Ashbourne passion is restored the season is not yet lost! The 2nd XV kick off at 1pm and the 1sts at 2.30pm.
Cathal Field; Dermot Colreavy, Dave Stewart, Casey Dunne, Joe Taylor; Marcus Speck, Eddie Conaty; Alan Wall, James McCaghy, Ciaran Roche; Darragh Curran, Jeff Mahon; Mark Rooney, James Rooney, Rory Gleeson. Replacements: Mark Behan, Adrian Buckley, Eugene Gallagher, Ken Bolster, Adam Sherrard. -Elsewhere in the Leinster League, Malahide remain on the coat-tails of Division 2A leaders Kilkenny following a 20-5 home win over Portlaoise, but Swords' relegation fate in 2B was all but decided as they suffered a 79-0 humiliation at the hands of leaders Railway Union. Balbriggan were beaten 20-6 at home to Boyne in the McGee Cup.