Leinster Club Rugby: Champs are flying the flag
Ashbourne were the only one of the four Leinster teams to survive the opening round of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup last Saturday and the Meath club's reward is a home second-round tie tomorrow week against Munster Junior League leaders Clonmel.
Defending the crown they won last January, Ashbourne beat Ulster Rugby Championship leaders Ballyclare 23-13 at home in Milltown House while Enniscorthy lost 30-25 in Newcastle West.
Gorey were beaten 22-16 away to Instonians and De La Salle Palmerston went down 21-12 at home in Kirwan Park to Connemara.
Having trailed early on, Ashbourne managed to lead 13-8 at half-time with centre Simon Deevy's try being added to by scrum-half Gavin Kennedy's conversion and two penalty goals.
The home side asserted their authority immediately on the resumption when full-back Maiky Massuger scored a try and they ensured their passage to the second round when Kennedy touched down for the hosts' third try inside the final ten minutes.
Enniscorthy came out on the wrong end of a thrilling contest in Newcastle West despite leading 15-10 at half-time, as wingers Ivan Jacob and David O'Dwyer chipped in with a try apiece.
However, the home side dominated after the restart and led by 12 points with a little over ten minutes to play. The visitors then struck for a pair of tries through centre Daniel Pim and flanker Tom Ryan to set up a grandstand finish but a late penalty goal ensured a famous victory for the Munster club over the two-time winners of the Junior Cup.
De La Salle Palmerston also led at half-time with No 8 Robin Wilson's try helping the Kilternan club into a 7-5 lead at the interval.
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But the westerners took over in the second half and a lone try scored by wing-forward Fiachra Lattimer wasn't enough and the Dubliners crashed out.
Completing the poor weekend for Leinster clubs, Gorey exited in Belfast against Instonians having trailed throughout and they had only flanker Jordan Ahern's converted try to show for their first-half efforts as they trailed 14-7.
The Wexford club could never breach the home defence thereafter, relying on a drop goal from full-back David Shannon and two penalty goals by centre Stephen Horan to stay within striking distance.
There is action in Division 1A of the Leinster League tomorrow when leaders Ashbourne travel to play Wicklow at Ashtown Lane, second-placed De La Salle Palmerston host struggling Boyne, third-placed Enniscorthy are away to Gorey in Clonattin and bottom-of-the-table Monkstown will try for their maiden victory at home in Sydney Parade against Dundalk.