Tuesday 21 May 2019

Enniscorthy in Senior ranks

Historic occasion as spot secured in All-Ireland League

Ivan Poole and Nick Doyle celebrate
Ivan Poole and Nick Doyle celebrate

Brendan Furlong

Enniscorthy Rugby Club celebrated what has been a glittering season so far on Saturday with promotion to the AIL.

The club brought to a close an amazing 88-year barren spell without Senior club rugby for it was way back in 1931 when they last competed at the top level.

After entering the round robin series having won Leinster League Division 1A with comprehensive displays, they brought their rich vein of form into the play-offs.

And they have also qualified for the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup final, where they hope to win back-to-back titles against Wicklow in Navan on Sunday week.

Having seen off Instonians in their opening round-robin game in Belfast, they followed this up with a hugely impressive home victory over the Munster Junior Club champions, Clonmel.

They made the journey to Clifden on Saturday for what as expected to be a difficult game, but the Cathedral town side maintained their superb run with an astounding 27-0 victory.

There's nothing like a successful run of victories to bring out the support. One could see the confidence that has pervaded through the club all season and this was taken west of the Shannon, as with a clinical display they clinched promotion to Senior rugby with one of their best displays of the season.

Their only blot on what has been a huge season for the club was the All-Ireland Cup final loss to Ashbourne, but given the quality that exists in this side, the players bounced right back with a succession of victories.

This was a massive achievement for Enniscorthy, who this week will put the celebrations behind them, as they get their preparations under way for the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup final with Wicklow in Navan on Sunday week.

There is no doubt more to come from this side under the excellent guidance of captain Tom Ryan, brother of Wexford hurler, Liam. Tom is showing the type of leadership that has enabled the club to enjoy the most successful season in its history.

Enniscorthy will be endeavouring to put Towns Cups back-to-back, but they know how dangerous that Wicklow can be.

Meanwhile, Leinster are left sweating on the fitness of Tadhg Furlong ahead of their European Cup semi-final showdown with French side, Toulouse, in what will be a sell-out Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

Furlong came on as a half-time replacement in the 39-24 defeat to Glasgow Warriors in their PRO14 league game in the RDS on Saturday, in an effort to shore up an under pressure scrum.

However, 64 minutes into the game, Furlong went down with a knee injury, which forced his withdrawal.

While Furlong hobbled off the pitch, coach Leo Cullen admitted afterwards that the player wanted to play on, but the decision was taken out of his hands as a precautionary measure.

Furlong will now undergo scans this week, but it is hoped that he will be fully fit for the eagerly anticipated semi-final.

Enniscorthy's Josh Murphy got through an impressive 80 minutes despite the defeat as he continues to enhance his reputation.

Castletown's Paul Boyle turned in a highly-charged performance in Connacht's 29-22 victory over Cardiff Blues which not alone guaranteed them a PRO14 quarter-final clash against Ulster, but also Champions League rugby at the Showgrounds next season.

Gorey's Robin Copeland, a 64th-minute second-half replacement, continues his return from injury and put his hands up for a return to the first 15 with a massive display through the final minutes as Cardiff applied late pressure.

It was a particularly huge weekend for rugby in the county, particularly in Enniscorthy as they swept to glory.

Enniscorthy Guardian