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Mullingar have to do it all again

There was drama, heroics and no little controversy as the Towns Cup got under way last weekend with a bang.

Dundalk full-back Stephen McGee set the standard for excellence by notching up a hat trick of tries as the Co Louth club got proceedings moving with a hard-earned 25-16 win in Kilkenny on Saturday afternoon.

Later that evening, Mullingar winger Stuart Flynn, promoted for the day from the U21 side, gave a lesson in kicking at home to Ashbourne by landing seven penalty goals, including the winner deep in injury time for a 21-20 victory.

However, the controversy arose subsequently when Mullingar were discovered to have named too many replacements on the team sheet and a replay on Sunday week has been ordered by the Leinster Branch.

The bulk of the action was confined to Sunday, where Athy produced the shock of the day when they travelled to Skerries and returned home with a well-deserved 16-11 win.

Out-half Darren O'Brien was the hero for the Division 2 club as he chipped in with 13 points, including the decisive final-quarter try that gave the Kildare lads the buffer they were able to defend stoically to the end, despite the hosts throwing everything bar the kitchen sink at them in a frantic finale.

Another out-half to the rescue was Willie Canavan in Tullow as his four penalty goals turned a 9-3 half-time deficit into a 12-9 victory over visitors Portarlington.



RELINQUISHED

Clondalkin made it past the opening round for the first time in their fourth year in the Towns Cup when they overcame Navan 13-9 at home with centre Steve Cunningham's early try giving the west Dublin club a lead they never relinquished.

Wexford Wanderers were another side to come from behind when they won 16-13 in Clane, having trailed 13-0 at the interval.

A try by winger Sean ó Corcora, together with 11 points from the boot of out-half John Flynn, were largely responsible for the remarkable turnaround.

Elsewhere, Arklow sprung a surprise in the local derby in Rathdrum by squeezing home 21-16, Longford used home advantage to good effect in beating Gorey 19-7 and Wicklow did likewise in knocking off Naas on a 36-14 scoreline.

New Ross overcame a stiff challenge in North Kildare by 11-3, Tullamore were too good for their hosts Co Carlow in a 30-13 success, Enniscorthy hammered Swords 36-5 at home and finally Newbridge had to work hard to emerge from Roscrea with a 21-11 victory.

The winners will be joined in the drum by Cill Dara and Boyne for the second round draw on February 20, with those games scheduled for Sunday March 14.


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