Saturday 1 October 2016

Enniscorthy facing daunting fixtures pile-up

Dermot O'Mahony

Published 08/04/2016 | 02:30

Wicklow captain Wes Wojnar, right, celebrates with team-mate Stephen Duffy after the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup semi-final showdown with Clondalkin at Oakpark in Carlow - Wicklow won 16-13 (SPORTSFILE)
Wicklow captain Wes Wojnar, right, celebrates with team-mate Stephen Duffy after the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup semi-final showdown with Clondalkin at Oakpark in Carlow - Wicklow won 16-13 (SPORTSFILE)

The vagaries of the Irish weather were all too evident last weekend as some important rugby fixtures were affected, notably Enniscorthy's visit to Clonmel on Saturday in the Ulster Bank League Round Robin which fell foul of the heavy rain in the south east.

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While Co Carlow's grounds at Oak Park were playable for the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup semi-final between Wicklow and Clondalkin on Sunday the relentless downpours caused the pitch to cut up badly with the game becoming more a war of attrition and endurance the longer it progressed.

Dramatic

There was the most dramatic finale as No 8 Wes Wojnar scored the game's winning try deep in injury-time to deliver victory for Wicklow in the rain and mud, and they have reached the Towns Cup final for only the second time in their history.

The Garden County club prevailed on a 16-13 scoreline but Clondalkin will feel that they let it slip as they led for most of the game having opened the scoring inside the first minute when centre Matt Stapleton took advantage of a slip in the opposition defence to touch down.

Wicklow struck back early in the second quarter with a try scored by flanker Liam Gaffney and trailed 10-8 at half-time after out-halves Niall Earls and Chris Jebb of Clondalkin exchanged penalties.

A similar exchange of penalty goals early in the second half maintained the west Dubliners' advantage until that late intervention by Wicklow club captain Wojnar.

Ironically, Wicklow will be hoping that their Towns Cup final opponents Enniscorthy do them a big favour in the AIL Round Robin; following Dundalk's relegation from the AIL on Saturday, promotion for the county Wexford club would mean elevation for Wicklow to Division 1A of the Leinster League while Longford and New Ross would maintain their respective statuses in Divisions 1B and 2A.

The cancellation of the game in Clonmel has caused logistical problems for the rugby administrators in an already congested end of season fixture list.

The game has been refixed by the IRFU for next Tuesday evening with an 8.0 kick-off in Clonmel and that is a date that will surely suit neither side.

Tomorrow afternoon Enniscorthy host Bangor, who beat Westport 24-0 at home in Upritchard Park last Saturday, bagging a four-try bonus point in the process while Clonmel travel to the county Mayo venue.

After facing each other on Tuesday night the two protagonists must play a third game in eight days when they complete their Round Robin campaigns, with Enniscorthy at home in Ross Road against Westport, while Clonmel entertain Bangor.

The winner of the Round Robin is promoted automatically to the AIL while the runner-up travels to Sligo to take on the team that finished second-last in Division 2C in a play-off.

The Provincial Towns Cup between Enniscorthy and Wicklow has now been confirmed for Sunday, May 1 in Ashbourne Rugby Club.

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