Friday 15 December 2017

Enniscorthy eye victory to keep AIL dream alive

Leinster’s Ben Te’o during squad training this week at UCD Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster’s Ben Te’o during squad training this week at UCD Photo: Sportsfile

Dermot O'Mahony

Enniscorthy commenced their quest to attain AIL status on Saturday with 19-19 home draw at Ross Road against Ulster champions Bangor in the Ulster Bank League Round Robin while Clonmel got their campaign off to a winning 38-0 start in Westport.

Tomorrow Clonmel host Enniscorthy in a game postponed because of a waterlogged pitch a fortnight ago and the stakes for the Co Wexford club in this game are now sky high as they have no wriggle room following last week's draw.


You may recall this game was originally rescheduled for Tuesday last but after numerous submissions made on behalf of both clubs the IRFU decided that tomorrow would be a more equitable day to play the match, and the games originally scheduled for tomorrow, Enniscorthy v Westport and Clonmel v Bangor will now be pushed back seven days until tomorrow week.

Tries inside the opening 25 minutes scored by flanker Brian Bolger and centre Killian Lett had the home side 12 points to the good at Ross Road before Bangor used their big pack to good effect to take advantage of two yellow cards against Enniscorthy as firstly No 8 Curtis Stewart touched down and then the referee awarded a penalty try for collapsing a dynamic driving maul to put the visitors 14-12 ahead at the interval.

On the resumption, the good old Irish weather produced a pounding hailstorm but undeterred prop forward James Leary stretched the Bangor lead to seven points midway through the second half with another try that had its genesis in more forward domination.

With a quarter of an hour remaining the hosts' three-quarter line carved out an opening that resulted eventually in No 8 Tom Ryan scoring the try that allowed out-half Ivan Poole level affairs.

That set up an exciting finale with both sides having match-winning opportunities; winger Mark Widdowson missed a penalty kick for Bangor inside the last five minutes before Enniscorthy were adjudged to have knocked forward as a number of players dived to touch down in in-goal as the final seconds ticked by.

Clonmel scored six tries in swatting aside the challenge of Westport and victory is simply a must for Enniscorthy tomorrow if they are to realistically maintain their AIL dream.

With the winner of the AIL Round Robin gaining automatic promotion and the runner-up playing off with Sligo, a win tomorrow for Enniscorthy would all but guarantee a top two position, and they would even be in pole position to secure the top spot.

This shows how tight the margins are in this intensely pressurised competition as any other result would leave them sweating until next week with their fate most likely in the hands of others.

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