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Ashbourne and Kilkenny in Towns Cup final face-off

The 89th Provincial Towns Cup final, sponsored by Cleaning Contractors, will be staged in Tullow RFC's grounds at Black Gates on Sunday (3.30) and will feature Leinster League Division 1B champions Ashbourne against their divisional rivals Kilkenny.

Ashbourne enjoyed the luck of the draw early on in that their first three games were at home in Milltown House where they beat, in turn, Edenderry (46-14), Gorey

(21-16) and Roscrea (62-0).

The Co Meath club then overcame All-Ireland Junior Cup champions Enniscorthy 12-10 in a tense semi-final played at Naas RFC on the same day that Kilkenny beat Wicklow 12-7 at Tullow in another fraught semi-final where the victors survived a frantic finale to reach Sunday's decider.

Kilkenny opened their account with an eye-catching 20-12 away win at CPL Park against last year's runners-up Longford before disposing of Division 1A clubs Clondalkin (17-7) and Newbridge (45-11), both at home in Foulkstown.

It is only Ashbourne's second ever Towns Cup final appearance, having lost their only previous decider by 18-10 to Navan at Mullingar in 1999.

Kilkenny, on the other hand, have won the fabled pot on five occasions, the most recent being in 2002 when they completed a two-in-a-row, while they have also lost five finals dating back to their initial success in 1955.

Kilkenny are backboned by a strong and powerful pack that features an athletic back-row, while their half-back pairing of Robbie Walsh and Willie Wright is as good as there is at this level.

What makes this final so hard to call is that Ashbourne's strength is also up front, with their evergreen lock-forward Jeff Mahon constantly leading by example in the trenches, while they also feature a game-controlling half-back duo in Gavin Kennedy and Paul Morris.

It promises to be a tight contest between two evenly-matched teams before a huge crowd at Black Gates.

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