Monday 23 October 2017

Nicholls sets up historic Tullow victory

Tullow 20 Skerries 3

Sean O’Brien – with the Towns Cup after his Tullow side beat Skerries in yesterday’s final – is one of the Leinster survivors from their last semi-final win over Clermont in 2012. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Sean O’Brien – with the Towns Cup after his Tullow side beat Skerries in yesterday’s final – is one of the Leinster survivors from their last semi-final win over Clermont in 2012. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Brian Lowry

Tullow made history in convincing fashion at Athy RFC yesterday when they turned on the style to claim the Towns Cup for the first time in the 92-year history of the competition.

Twelve months after Wicklow claimed the title for the first time, this year's instalment produced more joyous scenes, as a passionate and hugely determined Tullow banished the demons of two previous final defeats by running out convincing winners over Skerries Seconds.

Keiaho Bloomfield of Tullow RFC is tackled by David Goodman of Skerries RFC 2nd XV. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Keiaho Bloomfield of Tullow RFC is tackled by David Goodman of Skerries RFC 2nd XV. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

With Leinster and Ireland stalwart Sean O'Brien on the coaching ticket of his home club, they played the opening half against a stiff breeze, but that didn't stop them taking the lead in breathtaking fashion.

As Skerries pressed just five metres from the Tullow line, the hero of the semi-final win over Wicklow, Richard Nicholls, intercepted a pass and ran the length of the field to score under the posts.

Ryan O'Neill added the extras and the Carlow men had a 7-0 lead after nine minutes.

Skerries threatened and enjoyed their own spells in the opening half, but with each foray forward they were confronted with a Tullow defensive wall that proved unbreakable.

Richard Nicholls of Tullow RFC on his way to scoring the first try against Skerries RFC 2nd XV. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Richard Nicholls of Tullow RFC on his way to scoring the first try against Skerries RFC 2nd XV. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Robbie Jenkinson did land a penalty after 25 minutes to make it 7-3, but when Tullow's Kyle Hanbridge went to the sin bin for the last 10 minutes of the half, Skerries failed to capitalise.

In fact, they fell even further behind after a well-worked line-out move saw Frank Murphy soar in the air to win possession, before No. 8 Stephen Smith barged over the line two minutes from half-time to give his team a 12-3 lead going in at the break.

Tullow never really looked like relinquishing their lead and a try in the corner from Dylan Leybourne on 47 minutes ensured there was no way back for Skerries.

The excellent William Cass O'Brien added a penalty on 52 minutes to close the scoring and secure a historic victory for Tullow RFC.

Richard Nicholls of Tullow RFC scores the first try against Skerries RFC 2nd XV. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Richard Nicholls of Tullow RFC scores the first try against Skerries RFC 2nd XV. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Tullow: S Doyle; R Nicholls, S Rohan, K Bloomfield, R O,Neill; W Cass O'Brien, D Leybourne; L Kilcoyne, S Corrigan, S Caldbeck; Frank Murphy, J Waters; J Hanbridge, K Hanbridge, S Smith. Replacements: J Fitzgerald, W Hallow O'Brien, J Pratt, M Cole, A Byrne, J O'Brien.

Skerries: R Gordan; R Woods, D Goodman, B Caldwell, M Oliver; D Quirke, R Jenkinson; C Ronayne, K Leonard, N Martin; AJ Sherlock, S Attley; T Scuffil, B Jenkinson, C Marrey. Replacements: D Joyce, E O'Byrne, R Halligan, M Cauldwell, C McMahon.

Ref - Brian Montayne.

 

Tullow RFC captain Keiaho Bloomfield lifts the Towns Cup as his team-mates celebrate. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Tullow RFC captain Keiaho Bloomfield lifts the Towns Cup as his team-mates celebrate. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

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