Sunday 4 December 2016

Enniscorthy face final hurdle in push for AIL

Dermot O'Mahony

Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30

Tadhg Furlong is presented with the Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Player of the Month award for February/March by Donal Atkins, Relationships Manager at Banking at Work, Bank of Ireland in Belfield this week (SPORTSFILE)
Tadhg Furlong is presented with the Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Player of the Month award for February/March by Donal Atkins, Relationships Manager at Banking at Work, Bank of Ireland in Belfield this week (SPORTSFILE)

Enniscorthy's quest for a place in the Ulster Bank League will be decided tomorrow afternoon at Hamilton Park, Strandhill when the winner of their play-off with Sligo will gain the last place in Division 2C of the AIL.

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Despite hammering Westport 45-5 at home in Ross Road last Saturday, the county Wexford club finished second in the AIL Round Robin, pipped by a single point by Bangor who have returned to the top tier of national rugby after a 14-year absence following their 29-12 victory in Clonmel.

Shunted

Consequently the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup final between Wicklow and Enniscorthy has been shunted back seven days and will now be played on Sunday week in Ashbourne.

Bangor scored their four tries in the opening half as they raced into a 26-5 lead at Clonmel and despite the valiant efforts of their hosts after the break, the Ulster champions were able to keep them at arm's length to glean the maximum points that ensured their return to the AIL.

Enniscorthy ran in seven tries in their win over Westport but they knew their fate long before the final whistle.

The home side's wingers were to the fore in the first half with David O'Dwyer netting a pair of tries while Ivan Jacob bagged another as Enniscorthy opened up a 17-0 lead at the interval.

No 8 Timmy Morrissey scored the bonus point try soon after the resumption before adding another just after Jacob had notched his second touchdown and it was left to centre Ross Barbour to complete the try scoring shortly before the final whistle.

Head coach Declan O'Brien said after the game: "We played well but it is disappointing not to win the Round Robin and we have no one to blame only ourselves.

"We still have a chance even though we now have the long journey to Sligo who will be fresh."

That was a reference to the fact that their opponents have not played any competitive rugby since they finished their AIL Division 2C campaign at the beginning of the month.

After a gruelling three-week schedule against the cream of the country's Junior clubs O'Brien will be hoping that few if any injuries have been picked up as they head west for the biggest game in the club's 104-year history.

And if there are any injuries the strength of Enniscorthy's squad was demonstrated to good effect last Sunday when their 2nd XV impressively beat Birr 29-14 in the Provincial Towns Seconds Cup final played at Kilkenny Rugby Club.

Enniscorthy are striving to become the eighth Leinster club in a row to be promoted to the AIL, a statistic that speaks volumes for the quality of Junior rugby being played throughout the province week in and week out.

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