Tuesday 24 October 2017

Enniscorthy's extra class sets up Naas clash

Club round-up Dermot O'Mahony

Leinster’s Dan Leavy in action during training this week at UCD. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Leinster’s Dan Leavy in action during training this week at UCD. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

The Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup quarter-finals were decided at the weekend with three ties resulting in decisive victories, while one game hogged all the drama and required extra-time.

Enniscorthy v Kilkenny in Ross Road was a repeat of last year's final which the Wexford club won by a single point and this time around they finished level at 35 points apiece before the holders prevailed 49-35 with extra-time tries from replacement flanker Damien McCabe and winger Ivan Jacob.

Reward

Their reward is semi-final against Naas, whose Second XV caused the upset of the third round when they beat Gorey 23-14 at home in Forenaughts; that last-four clash will be played on Sunday in Kilkenny Rugby Club.

Wicklow won 35-8 at Portlaoise and their semi-final on Sunday week in Co Carlow FC will be against Clondalkin who bagged eight tries in a 59-8 win at home against Roscrea.

Kilkenny led 22-19 at the break in Ross Road as scrum-half Rory McInerney repeatedly punished Enniscorthy indiscretions with five penalties as well as converting flanker John Phelan's try midway through the half, but tries from full-back Jack Kelly, centre Hughie O'Neill and Jacob kept the home side in touch.

On the resumption McInerney traded penalties with home pivot Ivan Poole. Centre Ross Barbour's try with ten minutes remaining seemed to seal the deal for Enniscorthy only for his opposite number Podge Mahon's to pop up with a last-minute equalising touchdown, to force extra time.

The late comeback seemed to give Kilkenny the impetus , but the home side finished stronger with tries early in each half of the added 20 minutes.

Flanker Ryan Casey and centre Brian Fitzgerald scored the first-half tries for Naas as they established control with a 17-0 interval lead and the boot of flanker Cillian Dempsey had pushed that lead out to 23 points before two tries inside the last ten minutes salvaged some late pride for Gorey.

Sunday's semi-final in Kilkenny is an extremely tough one to call. Naas won the Hosie Cup over Christmas and were narrowly beaten at Blackrock College in the Metro League Division 2 final a fortnight ago.

Their victory over Gorey will have made everyone sit up and take notice ahead of this last-four clash with Enniscorthy, who also have the All-Ireland Junior Cup and the Leinster League Division1 trophy in their clubhouse.

Out-half Chris Jebb scored 22 points, which included one try, in Clondalkin's 59-8 victory over Roscrea; there was a brace of tries for scrum-half Colm Quinn and No 8 Simon King while centre Matt Stapleton, flanker Neil Finlay and lock Paul Nolan each chipped in with a try apiece as the home side never let up having led 31-8 at half-time.

Wicklow had to wait until approaching the interval at Portlaoise before making their decisive move when out-half Niall Earls scored the only try of the first half that helped put the visitors on top by 13-3.

Earls, whose tally was 25 points, grabbed another try soon after the restart before a Portlaoise resurgence was quelled with tries from centre Kieran Hurrell and prop Shane Byrne.

And on Sunday week the two teams that met in the Division 1A/1B promotion/relegation playoff less than a fortnight ago will lock horns as both continue their quest to win the Towns Cup for a first time.

Irish Independent

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