Sunday 22 April 2018

Enniscorthy eye repeat victory over Ashbourne

Stephen Mulhall of Portarlington is tackled by Navan's John Davis in their Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup 2nd round tie at Lea Road Portarlington
Stephen Mulhall of Portarlington is tackled by Navan's John Davis in their Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup 2nd round tie at Lea Road Portarlington

Dermot O'Mahony

The penultimate series of games in Division 1A of the Leinster League takes place tomorrow afternoon and as yet nothing has been decided at either end of the table, while the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup is almost down to the last eight after last weekend's action.

The reason for the 'almost' is that the Tullamore v Portlaoise second-round tie last Sunday was a victim of the inclement weather and it has been rescheduled for this evening at 8.0 in Spollenstown.

Holders Ashbourne fell at the first hurdle in their defence of the Towns Cup when they lost 25-14 away at Enniscorthy last Sunday.

Slow

The visitors made a slow start and found themselves 15-3 down at the interval; despite having the strong wind at their backs for the second half they could never get close enough to trouble the 2012 champions.

And speaking of 2012 it will be a repeat of that final when Enniscorthy visit Black Gates in the quarter-final after Tullow travelled to Longford and won 15-8 at CPL Park.

Flanker Aidan Murphy scored the first-half try that helped the county Carlow club into a 10-3 lead at the break and with the rain hammering down on the resumption the visitors quickly extended their lead with lock Erin Ingles touching down; a late surge from the hosts proved in vain.

There was a strong fightback in Lea Road where home side Portarlington twice came from behind to beat Navan 20-13.

The hosts trailed by ten points early in the game but a try just before half-time from second-row Conor Dunne and a second shortly after the restart by hooker Colm Dowling levelled matters.

Navan edged back in front, but out-half Stephen Mulhall kicked the equalising penalty just before scoring the game winning try that he also converted five minutes from the end.

Port' now make the long journey up to Dundalk to face the inform Division 1A leaders who dispatched Wicklow 19-0 at home in Mill Road, with their tries coming from winger Ultan Murphy and a pair from full-back Stephen McGee.

Last year's runners-up Kilkenny marched on to the quarter-final as they convincingly beat south east neighbours New Ross 32-6 in Foulkstown; they will again enjoy home advantage in the next round against Skerries, who were 23-7 winners at home over Newbridge.

Finally Clondalkin had to come from behind late in their pulsating tie at home in Kingswood against Gorey with tries from winger Niall Nolan, No 8 Simon King and centre Matt Stapleton helping them to a 22-15 victory - they will now play the winners of the Tullamore v Portlaoise clash in the third round.

Dundalk will expect to extract maximum points when they host Coolmine in Division 1A tomorrow - defeat would consign the west Dubliners to automatic relegation.

Enniscorthy will be hoping for a repeat of their Towns Cup success when they welcome Ashbourne back to Ross Road for the second time in six days as the county Wexford club attempt to maintain the three-point deficit to the leaders ahead of their final-day showdown a week later.

There is a major three-way battle to avoid the relegation play-off spot and the big clash tomorrow in that fight is the visit of Cill Dara to Clondalkin, with both clubs one point clear of Suttonians, the occupier of that seventh place who travel to Sydney Parade to play third-placed Monkstown.

Irish Independent

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