Royals edge into first final
Leinster Club Rugby
Ashbourne and Enniscorthy ensured that the All-Ireland Junior Cup Final will be an all-Leinster affair on January 28 following their semi-final wins last Saturday, while Wicklow consolidated their position at the top of Division 1B of the Leinster league with another bonus-point win on Sunday.
Ashbourne held on to win by the minimum margin against Clogher Valley and that 20-19 victory secured their place in the final of the national competition for the very first time.
Although they conceded an early try to their Co Fermanagh visitors, Ashbourne bounced back to lead 17-7 at half-time with centre Adam Sherrard and out-half Adam Martin scoring a try apiece while scrum-half Gavin Kennedy added a penalty goal to his pair of conversions.
A long-range penalty goal kicked by replacement winger Casey Dunne five minutes from time proved crucial in securing the Ashbourne win as Clogher Valley mounted a late surge that came up just short.
There was another exciting encounter at Kirwan Park where eventually the visitors Enniscorthy got the better of De La Salle Palmerston on a 34-26 score line in a game that produced nine tries.
The Wexford side, who won the Junior Cup last season, were well in control at the interval, bagging three tries through right winger Ivan Jacob, No 8 Nick Doyle and left winger David O'Dwyer as they established a 21-12 half-time lead.
After the break De La Salle Palmerston fought back and it took late tries from Jacob and one with the last play of the game from flank forward Tom Ryan to thwart the Dubliners.
Wicklow overcame a tricky encounter against an improved Suttonians away at Station Road, winning 32-20 to maintain their seven-point lead over Tullow at the top of Division 1B.
International Rugby Newsletter
The league leaders led 22-13 at half-time thanks in the main to a brace of tries from winger Dean Leonard plus another scored by centre Ben Porter and despite No 8 Michael Doyle securing the bonus point with another five-pointer after the break, they were made fight all the way by Suttonians.
Tullow kept pace and moved up to second place as they ran in seven tries in beating Portlaoise 41-25 at home in Black Gates while Clondalkin dropped to third after losing 25-18 away in Ashbrook to Coolmine.
Stuart Flynn kicked two late penalties for bottom club Mullingar as they grabbed a precious 24-24 draw away at the Maws in Kilcock against North Kildare.
Division 2A pacesetters Longford were beaten 10-3 away in Park Avenue by Railway Union who are now up to second place, four points adrift of their vanquished opponents.