Enniscorthy maintain their fine recent form
Since this column was last published three weeks ago, Enniscorthy have reached the final of the Ulster Bank All Ireland Junior Cup for the third time in four seasons, and they also beat Ashbourne last Sunday in a rearranged Leinster League Division 1A fixture that stretched their lead at the top to six points.
Before Christmas they beat Bangor 23-5 in the Junior Cup semi-final at home a week after a deluge of rain in the hour prior to kick-off had forced the original game to be postponed.
The decider will be played in Ashbourne on Saturday, February 6 and their opponents will be another Ulster club, Instonians.
At least Enniscorthy will be familiar with the venue having earned a tough 27-23 win in Ashbourne, although the pitch for the final will no doubt be significantly wider than the narrow 3rds pitch used on Sunday due to a maintenance scheduling mix up that rendered the main pitch unplayable.
Second-row Joe Bulmer and winger Ivan Jacob scored the first-half tries for the Co Wexford side as they led 17-10 at the break and it was Jacob who scored the late game-clinching touchdown that ensured the visitors were able to thwart a late Ashbourne surge that included their second penalty try in the dying minutes.
Tomorrow Enniscorthy travel to Kilkenny while Ashbourne, who lie in fourth place, welcome third-placed De La Salle Palmerston.
Elsewhere in Division 1A the bottom two lock horns as Clondalkin welcome basement club Suttonians to Gordon Park and second placed Gorey will be at home in Clonattin against Monkstown.
There were a number of Area finals staged over the weekend, with Mullingar being the venue for the Midland J1 League finals on Saturday.
The hosts beat Longford 40-5 in the Plate decider, Edenderry were 50-5 winners over Roscrea in the Shield final while in the Bowl final Birr got the better of Midland Warriors on a 22-14 scoreline.
The North Midlands Area had their big day on Sunday with Naas 2nd XV beating Clondalkin 23-22 in their showpiece Hosie Cup final before a big attendance at Athy in a cliff-hanger, while there was consolation for Clondalkin as their 2nd XV beat their Portlaoise counterparts 21-12 in the Lalor Cup decider, while the hosts beat Cill Dara 23-19 in the U-18 Osborne Cup final.
The draw for the Bank of Ireland provincial Towns Cup was conducted a week before Christmas and resulted as follows:
Ashbourne v Boyne 2nd XV
Wexford Wanderers v Athy
Portarlington v Naas 2nd XV
Gorey v Dundalk 2nd XV
Portlaoise v Tullamore 2nd XV
Longford v Wicklow
Midland Warriors v Navan 2nd XV
Newbridge v Clondalkin
Co Carlow v Cill Dara
Roscrea v Edenderry
Byes to the 2nd round:
Enniscorthy, Kilkenny, Tullow, New Ross, North Kildare, Mullingar
The 1st round of the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup will be played on Sunday, January 31 with the draw for the 2nd round to take place at one of the home venues later that afternoon.