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Enniscorthy up for Cup win in centenary year

THE 87th Provincial Towns Cup Final on Sunday is the highlight of a weekend that features some of the most important club games of the season, including Skerries' bid to clamber over the final hurdle en route to the AIL.

Tullow and Enniscorthy meet in the Provincial Towns Cup Final on Sunday afternoon in Portarlington Rugby Club (KO 3:30pm) in a mouth-watering clash between two great local rivals.

Five-time winners Enniscorthy have had to endure two losing final appearances since they last won in 1989, while Tullow have yet to win the much-coveted pot, losing their only previous decider four years ago.

The Co Wexford side, who mark their centenary this year, were the first winners of the Towns Cup in 1926, and won its predecessor, the Leinster Junior Cup, in 1923 and 1925.

They won again in 1927, and this unprecedented success prompted a move into senior ranks for the club, a realignment that didn't last long, as they were back in junior ranks in time to win again in 1934.

There was further success in 1963, but defeat in 1992 was followed by another loss in 1995.

Tullow's only sojourn this deep into the competition came in 2008, when they lost in Tullamore RFC to a Navan team that was only a year away from qualifying for the All-Ireland League.

The Co Carlow club went close again a year ago before ultimately bowing out at the penultimate stage in North Kildare RFC to eventual winners Dundalk.

Both clubs have been close to elimination on their journeys this far. Tullow's big scare came in a home quarter-final tie against Roscrea, when centre Alan Deering snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with an injury-time try. Centre Darren McCabe, meanwhile, did likewise in added time against Newbridge in a pulsating semi-final at Kilkenny RFC that allowed out-half Ivan Poole kick the equalising conversion from in front of the posts to force extra-time.

Tullow struggled in Division 1B of the Leinster League this season, and had to beat Roscrea in a promotion/relegation play-off to ensure their status for next term, but the Towns Cup always gets the juices flowing in the Carlow town.

They opened their campaign with a tough home win against Clane, before travelling to Wicklow where they performed well.



Dramatic

After a dramatic quarter-final win against Roscrea they beat Ashbourne in the semi-final.

Coached by Bernard Jackman and ably assisted by Leinster star Sean O'Brien, they are captained from the second row by Frank Murphy and will look to blindside flanker Rob Porter and out-half Willie Canavan to control the game.

After receiving a bye into the second round, Enniscorthy comfortably saw off the challenge of a Navan 2nd XV away before claiming a narrow home quarter-final victory against league champions Skerries.

Enniscorthy enjoyed a tremendous campaign in Division 1A of the Leinster League, where they finished third under player- coach Declan O'Brien.

The day before Skerries will look to complete their march through the AIL Round Robin with victory against Connacht champions Monivea at home in Holmpatrick (KO 2:30pm).


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