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Dundalk eye tenth Towns

One of the premier club events on the domestic calendar takes place in Edenderry Rugby Club on Sunday afternoon when Dundalk and Tullamore meet in the Newstalk Provincial Towns Cup Final (KO: 3:30 pm).

It is a meeting of two clubs with proud records in this great competition which will no doubt yet again draw large crowds from far and wide as rugby folk from around the province converge on Edenderry.

Tullamore are in their third final in a row, having come up just short in two classic encounters with Boyne, while Dundalk haven't been at this stage since they lost to Navan in 2000.

And one has to go back even further to 1987 when they beat Kilkenny in the final at Mullingar for the Co Louth club's last success; the Co Offaly standard bearers have lifted the fabled pot as recently as 2006 when they beat Wicklow in North Kildare.

Dundalk are seeking their 10th Towns Cup pennant while their opponents have won the title on five occasions.

The teams have met at the semi-final stage for the past two years and they've also clashed twice this season in Division 1A of the Leinster League, with each side recording convincing home wins.

They say you need a bit of luck to win anything and both teams have certainly had a dollop of that en route to the decider.


Tullamore were on the verge of exiting in the opening round at home to Navan when an injury-time try by lock forward David Milne saved their bacon, while Dundalk looked dead and buried when they hosted Co Carlow in a quarter-final tie as they trailed by three points late in the game and were down to 14 men, but somehow managed to conjure up a late try and penalty goal to sneak through.

Tullamore went on to make maximum use of that good fortune by winning 19-6 in Ashbourne in the second round and then won an exciting roller-coaster quarter-final 35-28 at home against Skerries.

Mullingar Rugby Club was the venue for a repeat of the last two finals when Tullamore gained a small modicum of revenge for those defeats as they beat Boyne 19-13 to advance to Sunday's final.

Dundalk's path to the decider was helped by receiving a bye into the second round where they edged past Cill Dara at home by 14-13.

The dramatic and rather fortunate quarter-final win over Co Carlow set up a semi-final date with Tullow in North Kildare Rugby Club where Dundalk were again forced to come from behind as they ran out 17-10 winners.

Big performances from scrum-half Richie Hughes and out-half Aaron Deverell could go a long way to delivering victory for Tullamore, while No8 and captain Adrian Hanley along with second row Dave Hanlon will be two of the key men in the battle up front.

Dundalk have relied on the mercurial skills of full-back Stephen McGee and the boot of out-half John Dodd to get them this far, while the influence of No8 Ene Fa'Atua will be important if the trophy is to head to the north east.

A great day is in prospect; let's hope the quality of the final matches the marvellous occasion.