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Wicklow leave it late to seal semi spot in Towns Cup

Following the excitement of Ireland's Six Nations Championship-sealing win on Saturday in Paris, there was plenty of drama on Sunday in the Provincial Towns Cup as three of the four semi-finalists became known.

Wicklow came from behind late in the game to win a ding-dong tussle away to holders Tullamore, Enniscorthy won the big Division 1A battle at home against Dundalk by a score while Kilkenny made everyone sit up and take notice after with their home demolition of Newbridge.

Roscrea edged Midland Warriors 24-19 at home in Streamstown in the outstanding second round tie and they will now travel to Milltown House to play Ashbourne on Sunday, with the winner filling the remaining penultimate round slot.

Winger Ben Porter was the hero for Wicklow as he kicked two late penalty goals to steer Wicklow over the line 17-13 and set up a semi-final against Kilkenny on Sunday week in Tullow Rugby Club.

Tries early in the second half by full back Donal Corbett and winger Odhran McIntyre had put the home side into a two-point lead having trailed 11-0 at the interval with full back Simon Breen's try having helped to put the visitors in control.

REPEAT

In a repeat of the 2006 decider that Wicklow had lost heavily in their only Towns Cup Final appearance to date, the young Garden County side fought back from the abyss and earned a date with fellow South East Area club Kilkenny.

Six tries in total with four coming before the break against a team from a division higher in the Leinster League was a statement of intent from Kilkenny, who beat Newbridge 45-11 in Foulkstown.

A pair of tries from former Newbridge winger Pádraig Mahon along with touchdowns from full back Joey Manuel, winger Killian Everard, scrum-half Robert Walsh and hooker Martin Leahy booked the hosts, who led 32-6 at half time, their semi-final place.

Enniscorthy have already two pieces of silverware decorating their clubhouse trophy cabinet having won the South East J1 League in December and the All-Ireland Junior Cup last month, and they remain on track to make it a treble having dispatched the stern challenge of Dundalk 12-5 at Ross Road.

FOCUSED

After a slow start to the season, the county Wexford club are finishing strongly and are many people's fancy to lift the fabled pot next month; a first-half penalty try that was replied to by Dundalk out-half Johnny Williams helped them to a 7-5 interval lead and winger Ivan Jacob's touchdown midway through the second half helped secure the hard-earned win.

Enniscorthy will meet the winner of next Sunday's Ashbourne v Roscrea third-round tie in a semi-final slated for Naas Rugby Club on Sunday week.

Tomorrow, attention is focused on Wanderers attempt to regain their Ulster Bank League (AIL) status as they begin the All-Ireland Provincial League Championship round-robin series at home in Lansdowne Road against Ulster champions Clogher Valley.

With two home matches out of three the odds certainly favour the HQ club, and their first league defeat of the season a fortnight ago away in Beechpark to Cill Dara in as intense a battle as this reporter has witnessed all season should certainly stand to them; a case of losing the battle but winning the war maybe.

There are two important Leinster League play-offs down for decision this weekend with Newbridge and Monkstown locking horns in the Division 1A/1B promotion/ relegation decider at Coolmine Rugby Club tomorrow while on Sunday Athy Rugby club will host the Division 1B/2A shoot out between Portarlington and Co Carlow.


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