Ahern try sets stage for epic title finale
Published 19/02/2016 | 02:30
Less than a month ago it looked as if the Leinster League Division 1A title was done and dusted: Enniscorthy enjoyed a 10-point lead over second-placed Gorey, but all of a sudden the two Wexford clubs are locked together at the summit with only two series of games remaining.
Gorey won their game in hand against Monkstown at home on Sunday and gleaned a precious bonus point in the 26-0 victory, while in another refixed game Ashbourne won 20-14 at Kilkenny.
When the original game was abandoned last month early in the second half due to the incessant rain making the pitch unplayable, Monkstown led by two points but this time round the home side, who are in irrepressible form on the back of their bonus-point win against Enniscorthy four weeks ago, made no mistake.
Winger Aidan Walsh opened the scoring with an early try before flanker Willie Earle notched the second try on the stroke of half-time to give Gorey a 14-0 interval lead.
The home scrum applied repeated pressure on their visitors at the hour mark that yielded a penalty try but it wasn't until the dying moments when Monkstown had two players in the bin that No 8 Jordan Ahern forced his way over off the base of a scrum for the crucial bonus point try.
Enniscorthy, having won a game more, hold the edge over Gorey at the top, as the first tie-breaker in the event of teams finishing level on points is the team that wins most games.
Ashbourne moved into third place after their win in Kilkenny while the losing bonus point earned by the home side inches them closer to safety as they now enjoy a seven-point buffer to the relegation play-off place.
No 8 Simon Deevy opened the scoring for the visitors with an early try and that five-point lead was doubled soon after by prop forward Mark Behan, but two penalties booted by out-half Rory McInerney kept Kilkenny in touch at the break as they trailed 10-6.
The hosts did get their noses in front immediately on the resumption when winger Podge Mahon touched down in the corner, only for replacement centre Alan Wall to restore the Meath club's lead on the hour mark, with the scoring being completed by a penalty apiece for McInerney and Ashbourne winger Casey Dunne.
Division 1A has many plots ongoing with two rounds of games to play - the Enniscorthy v Gorey battle for the title, the Monkstown v Clondalkin scrap to escape the relegation play-off, while Kilkenny or Monkstown could yet qualify for the Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup, as the fifth-placed team will make it if the Leinster League Division 1A winner is promoted to the AIL.
The Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup takes centre stage this weekend before the penultimate round of the league will be the focus of attention in a week's time.