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Warriors burst on to scene in shock Wanderers upset

THE Provincial Towns Cup, sponsored by Cleaning Contractors, kicked off on Sunday with a fairy tale beginning for competition debutants Midland Warriors, who travelled to Wexford and beat the local Wanderers 25-12.

The wintry weather caused some disruption as three games bit the dust but there was some stellar action in the remaining 10 encounters around the province.

All of the pre-tournament favourites that were in action such as Ashbourne, Dundalk and Naas 2nd XV made it safely through to the next round, although Tullow were taken to extra-time at Black Gates before disposing of North Kildare and there were battle royals in some venues such as Longford, Gorey and Tullamore.

But pride of place goes to the fledgling club from Moate in Westmeath that has only been playing adult rugby for the past four seasons and dipped its toes on Sunday into the blue riband competition of Leinster Rugby for the first time, having competed in the Provincial Towns Seconds Cups since it graduated to playing in adult ranks.

The visitors trailed 7-3 at half-time by the banks of the Slaney but put on a terrific show after the break as lock Anthony Quinn quickly touched down on the resumption of action, with further tries from winger John Egan and a brace from centre Paddy Murphy embellishing a wonderful victory that will add to the lore of the Towns Cup. No doubt it is a story that will be regaled for years in Moate.

Their reward is a second-round tie against the winners of the postponed Roscrea v Cill Dara tie, which fell foul of the inclement weather along with the Newbridge v New Ross and Arklow v Clondalkin games, all of which have been refixed for tomorrow.

Tullow have enjoyed a proud Towns Cup record in recent seasons, reaching the 2008 and 2012 finals as well as last season's semi-final, but they nearly fell at the first hurdle this time around as out-half Willie Canavan had to slot two extra-time penalty goals to edge them into the next round, where they will face Wicklow.

The Garden County men beat visitors Skerries 2nd XV at home in Ashtown Lane and they join fellow county rivals Rathdrum, who got a first-round bye and will welcome holders Tullamore to Ivy Leaf Grounds on February 16.

The defending champions, represented by their 2nd XV, were put to the pin of their collar before seeing off the strong challenge of local rivals Portarlington on an 11-6 scoreline.

Dundalk's reward for overcoming a stern challenge 25-11 away at the Showgrounds against Athy is a home draw against Naas 2nd XV who were impressive in beating their Navan counterparts 41-3 at home in Forenaughts.

Fortress

Ashbourne put up the biggest score of the day when bagging eight tries in their 46-14 home victory at Milltown House against an Edenderry side that never stopped trying.

The Meath club will be at home against Gorey, one of the tournament's dark horses, who overcame Mullingar 23-6 at their Clonattin fortress.

Portlaoise won 11-0 away in Shamrock Lodge against Boyne 2nd XV and will play Enniscorthy, recipients of a bye, at home in round two. Kilkenny reversed a league result of two weeks earlier when winning 20-12 against Longford away in CPL Park and will host the winners of Arklow v Clondalkin next while the third side to receive a bye, Co Carlow, will entertain either Newbridge or New Ross.

Tomorrow is a huge day for Enniscorthy as they play Clogher Valley from Ulster in the final of the All-Ireland Junior Cup at Coolmine RFC's grounds in Ashbrook.

The Wexford club got to the final a year ago but were undone by Tullamore and they have beaten CIYMS, Coolmine and Portadown to get this far.


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