Holders Ashbourne just about survive tough Tullamore test
The second round of the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup takes centre stage on Sunday but it was the turn of 2nd XVs to hog the limelight last weekend in the Provincial Towns Seconds Cup, and holders Ashbourne just about squeezed past Tullamore.
Visitors Tullamore had led from the outset but Ashbourne out-half Kelan Toolan held his nerve ten minutes from the end to nudge the hosts into the lead for the first time and they held that 19-18 advantage to the end.
Last year's beaten finalists Clondalkin also recorded a win as they bagged three tries from centre Andy Dixon, scrum-half Dara Ward and winger Pete Fitzgerald in beating Balbriggan 21-7 at home in Gordon Park, Kingswood.
Ashbourne feature in one of Sunday's big Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup ties when they travel to Ross Road to play Enniscorthy, the team they beat at the penultimate stage a year ago en route to winning the trophy for the first time, a victory that sparked a wonderful 1st and 2nd XV double.
Following promotion last season the Meath side initially struggled to win games in Division 1A of the Leinster League but they have found their feet of late and are in a rich vein of form, currently lying in fourth place.
Mind you their hosts who are second in Division 1A and in a terrific battle for the title, have not lost in the league since their sole defeat way back in September at Monkstown, a run that includes a 6-3 win at Ashbourne in November.
It promises to be a terrific encounter but it's not the only mouth-watering tie in the second round of the 90th renewal of the Towns Cup.
Division 1A leaders Dundalk, fresh off their Ulster Bank All-Ireland Cup success, enter the fray after a first-round bye with a tricky home opener at Mill Road against a Wicklow team that have been proving hard to beat in Division 2B where they lie in a close up fourth place.
Clondalkin's massive opening-round win at Boyne certainly caught the eye but they can't match that form in Division 1A and they will be tested at home in Kingswood by a visiting Gorey side that are second in Division 1B.
Longford had a tough first- round battle with North Kildare and they are rewarded with another home tie in CPL Park against a Tullow side that edged Cill Dara by a couple of points at their Black Gates fortress.
Last year's beaten finalists Kilkenny overcame Co Carlow in a high scoring first-round affair and they enjoy home advantage again on Sunday, this time against New Ross who overcame the stern challenge of Wexford Wanderers in their opening-day derby clash.
Tullamore enjoyed a day off in the first round courtesy of a bye to this stage and they'll face local rivals Portlaoise, who are on the road for the second round in succession after an impressive win in Roscrea.
Portarlington, who travelled to Naas to won their first-round tie, will entertain Navan at Lea Road, the Meath side having narrowly overcome Athy to get this far.
Finally but by no means least Skerries welcome Newbridge to Holmpatrick in a battle of teams making their Towns Cup bow this year after receiving opening-day byes.
Holders face daunting trip in Towns Cup
The Bank Of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup rolls back into action this weekend with eight Round Two games down for decision.
With the leagues entering into the final stretch, a cup run can be a welcome distraction, whatever end of the table teams are at.
Teams from both ends of the scale have booked their place in Round Two with the game of the round coming in the form of Enniscorthy and Ashbourne, two Division 1A sides pressing hard at the top end of the division.
The tie of the round is arguably in the sunny south east. Ashbourne tasted Towns Cup glory last year beating Kilkenny in the final.
They had a bye in the opening round but they have been dealt a massive task in Round Two as they face a daunting trip to Enniscorthy to take on the side two places ahead of them in Division 1A.
Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup, all games Sunday (3.0): Clondalkin v Gorey, Kilkenny v New Ross, Dundalk v Wicklow, Enniscorthy v Ashbourne, Longford v Tullow, Skerries v Newbridge, Portarlington v Navan, Tullamore v Portlaoise
Bective Rangers to host Over 35s blitz
The Leinster Branch has authorised Bective Rangers FC to host an Over 35s Blitz in Donnybrook on Sunday March 29 in aid of Crumlin Children's Hospital.
The first games kick off at 2.30 with the following clubs already expressing an interest in playing in the blitz: Bective Rangers, Clontarf, St Mary's, Suttonians, Terenure and Wanderers.
The winners of the Blitz will win the 'Kielys of Donnybrook' Cup and Gerry Cully of Crumlin Children's Hospital will draw the competing teams into two pools closer to the date.
Each competing team will be asked to raise €1,000 for Crumlin Children's Hospital. So far, we have raised over €45,000 for the Hospital over the last seven seasons. The blitz is open to all rugby clubs in Leinster, but all players must be over 35 and each player must be a member of their club and, therefore, insured.
For further information, please contact Joe Osborne of Bective Rangers FC at 086 3894106 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org