Ice-cool Poole makes vital late splash for Enniscorthy
Enniscorthy 9 Kilkenny 8 Provincial Towns cup final
An injury-time penalty from Enniscorthy out-half Ivan Poole saw the Wexford club clinch the Towns Cup in dramatic fashion at Cill Dara RFC.
In a game that only really came to life in the closing 20 minutes, Kilkenny looked to have done enough with David O’Connor’s try in the 70th minute putting them 8-6 ahead.
With the game in added time, Ivan Poole won a crucial turnover inside the Kilkenny 22 and following on from a subsequent Kilkenny offside, the ice-cool out-half slotted the tricky penalty to deny a brave and crestfallen Kilkenny who have now lost the last two finals having fallen to Ashbourne 12 months ago.
Kilkenny played with the aid of the strong breeze in the first half but despite dominating possession and Enniscorthy struggling to get out of their own half, it was the champions-elect who opened the scoring through a Poole penalty after 35 minutes.
Those scoreless 35 minutes came back to haunt the Kilkenny men as they really had Enniscorthy on the back foot on numerous occasions while Rory McInerney was wayward with a penalty and a drop goal.
Kilkenny were attacking hard but the Enniscorthy defence was excellent and almost unbreakable. Rory McInerney did land a penalty two minutes before the break to get Kilkenny on the scoreboard as the sides went in at the break level at 3-3 with Enniscorthy the happier camp.
With the wind behind them, it was now the turn of the Enniscorthy backline to show their worth and the second half was only four minutes old when Poole landed his second penalty to send his side 6-3 ahead and looking in control as they started to turn the screw.
Paul Bolger came into scrum-half from his wing position for the second half to take over from the injured Evan Lett and he did a sterling job at the heel of a pack led by the evergreen Declan O’Brien.
Enniscorthy had a few chances of their own to extend their lead but the large crowd were seeing two exciting and in-form backlines struggling to find a breakthrough.
Kilkenny refused to wilt and they began to claw their way back into the game.
They kept their try-line intact despite heavy pressure and with 10 minutes left, they got the only try of the game as they drove their maul over the line from 10 metres out for captain David O’Connor to get the ball grounded and claim an 8-6 lead.
As they defended their line with normal time elapsed, they switched off momentarily and Poole won the turnover that led to his winning penalty to claim glory for Enniscorthy, 90 years on from them winning the first ever Towns Cup.