Enniscorthy 20, Tullow 18: A dramatic last-minute 40-metre penalty from out-half Jack Kelly saw Enniscorthy win the Provincial Towns seconds' Cup final in Carlow on Saturday.
It looked as if their chance had gone and with 43 minutes passed they also had lost number 8 Joe Bulmer to a yellow card. One last foray into Tullow's territory drew the penalty kick after scrum-half David Shore took the ball on and Tullow's number 8 went off his feet and left the referee with no choice.
Kelly was coolness personified as he slotted the kick with the last action of the match. Enniscorthy's joy was matched by Tullow's utter despair as they sunk to their knees. Tullow looked the likely winners although they had butchered a lot of scoring chances, particularly in the opening 40 minutes.
Jack Kelly and Aaron Campbell exchanged penalties and Tullow with a strong wind behind them constantly pushed Enniscorthy back into their own half. Enniscorthy defended their line brilliantly as Tullow threw everything at them. Twice it looked like they had scored tries but on both occasions Angelo Todisco got under the ball to prevent certain scores.
With two minutes to half-time Damian McCabe sent Hughie O'Neill away and his strong run put John Clare in under the posts to put the 'Scorthy boys 8-6 in front. Jack Kelly added the conversion.
Aaron Campbell kicked another penalty although he had earlier missed two easy efforts at the posts.
Tullow started the second-half very strongly and were rewarded with a Louis Kilcoyne try, but Campbell missed the easy conversion and now Enniscorthy were 11-10 behind.
Enniscorthy eventually started to play but they had Cathal Mernagh sin-binned. Replacement Robbie O'Connor won a superb ball on the deck for Jack Kelly to move his back line. Shane McGuire released Hughie O'Neill to weave his way in under the posts, and Kelly kicked the conversion.
Kelly hit the post with a penalty but Tullow were not finished yet. Tullow lock Stephen Smith who was one of the best players on the field made a superb break and as the Enniscorthy defence crumbled, Eoin O'Toole could not believe their generosity as he galloped 40 metres to score the try.
Campbell crucially however missed the conversion but Tullow were now 18 -17 in front with ten minutes remaining. Enniscorthy huffed and puffed until their last-ditch penalty.
It was hard not to feel sorry for Tullow as they probably deserved to win, but credit to Enniscorthy who never threw in the towel. It is 21 years since Maurice Condon last captained a seconds Cup-winning team.
Angelo Todisco, John Daly, Cathal Mernagh, Damian McCabe and Mitchel Dalton were the pick of the forwards and Jack Kelly, Hughie O'Neill, Shane McGuire and Arthur Dunne the best of the backs. Enniscorthy's own Dougie Lett was on hand to present the cup to captain David Shore before a large support. David thanked the coaches, Mark O'Donoghue and Damian McCabe.
Team: Angelo Todisco, James Ruth, Andrew Kelly, John Daly, Jonathon Leech, Cathal Mernagh, Damian McCabe, Joe Bulmer, David Shore, Jack Kelly, John Clare, Hughie O'Neill, Shane McGuire, Fiacre Ryan, Arthur Dunne. Replacements: Mitchel Dalton, Ronnie White, Robbie O'Connor, Malcolm Rothwell, Oisín Dunbar, Cathal Spratt, Brendan Doyle, Conor Ryan.
It was a night of celebration on Friday for Enniscorthy R.F.C. as club stalwart Douglas Lett was presented with the coveted Mr. Boots award by the I.R.F.U.
Surrounded by family, friends and clubmates as well as Leinster and I.R.F.U. colleagues, Douglas accepted his honorary green jacket and tie to signify his award.
The Mr. Boots award is presented every year by the I.R.F.U. as a national recognition of someone who has excelled in working and contributing to Junior rugby. It was introduced after the retirement of the great Willie John McBride back in 1980.
One of McBride's last games was against Arklow R.F.C. and afterwards he presented his boots as a memento, hence the wording of the prestigious annual I.R.F.U. award.
Douglas Lett's family has been involved with Enniscorthy Rugby Club for more than a century, commencing when four brothers (including Douglas' grandfather) and their cousin lined out on the playing field.
Douglas' late father, Bill, was a man involved in playing rugby (capped for the Leinster Junior team), in developing under-age rugby and as a generous volunteer in many roles in Enniscorthy R.F.C.
Douglas played rugby for Enniscorthy R.F.C. from 1976 to 1990, winning a seconds' provincial medal in 1988 and three times winning the South-East J1 league.
Following his retirement from the rugby field, he then played an important role in Enniscorthy R.F.C., volunteering much of his time to under-age rugby, giving young players a love for the game and building the future for a club with a proud tradition in Irish Junior rugby.
Not surprisingly, Douglas was asked to help in his area and was nominated to the South-East area committee in 1987.
He became Chairman of the South-East area in 2003 and served in this position until 2014. Together with the legendary Wally Walsh and Eddie Wigglesworth, Douglas was responsible for the initiative of developing County Wexford as a pilot area for the Regional Development Officer (R.D.O.) programme.
Another important initiative was the development of the South-East area team touring to Wales under the name of the Sea Lions. Douglas was one of the original selectors and promoters of the Sea Lions.
At local level in the south-east, achievements in the last 17 years include: promoting the relationships with and recruitment of referees; promotion of mini and youth rugby; being the leader of a committee which has a very successful area league; being a leader in an area which has seen huge progress in rugby participation and in success in the province.
Douglas has also served as area representative to the Branch in various roles from Junior to the Senior executive committee.
He has given generously of his time including considerable service on the disciplinary committee.
Next season sees Gorey complete a journey which began four years ago when they compete in Leinster Division 1A, the top tier of Junior rugby.
Gorey had finished their Division 1B league campaign as runners-up to Kilkenny. This qualified them for the play-off position, which was against Cill Dara who finished in second-last place in Division IA.
The prize for Gorey was a place in the top tier of Junior rugby. That game took place in Carlow and after a hard-fought battle Gorey edged out the Kildare men.
But that was only part of the journey as the rest was out of their hands. They now had to wait on the results of the All-Ireland round robin. The round robin competition is between the top Junior clubs in each province.
The first round saw Leinster champions Dundalk score an impressive away win to favourites Instonians from Ulster. This was the result that Gorey wanted as it now put Dundalk as favourites to advance to the play-off. This they did, and over the last two weekends, they went on to beat Clonmel and Connemara respectively.
Gorey were also keeping one eye on Division 2B of the All-Ireland League where the team that finished in 14th place would meet the winners of the round robin. This also had a bearing on Gorey's position because if a Leinster team finished in that position, it meant Gorey would automatically be promoted.
The Gods were again shining on Gorey as D.L.S.P. of Dublin finished there. Because both teams are Leinster based it meant that only one of them would play in Leinster 1A, but it also meant that Gorey would play in Division 1A regardless of the result of this play-off.
Four years ago, Gorey were relegated to Division 2A and had to look hard at what and where they were going. A strong minis and youth section was in place, but a culture of players not committing to the club and seeking better prospects elsewhere had developed over the years.
The appointment of a very youthful Phil Horan as head coach was to change all that and also the direction in which the club was going. The structures were put in place with player retention at the core and over the last four seasons the club has reaped the reward as it has gone from strength to strength.
This has come with rewards, as in their first year they won their first-ever Leinster league title, as champions of Division 2B. The following year they finished in third place, narrowly missing promotion, but the extra year in 2A stood to them as they went on to finish as Division 2A champions.
They then set their eyes on the cup but narrowly lost to Ashbourne, the eventual winners. The plate beckoned and a run of four games saw them beat Portarlington in a very impressive final. Not to be outdone, the seconds also reached their plate final but lost out to Cill Dara.
This season saw the club compete in 1B where they finished runners-up to eventual champions Kilkenny. But in between the league they became South-East champions when they managed to overcome All-Ireland champions and this year's Towns Cup finalists, Enniscorthy, in an epic battle at Ross Road.
This was a great game and hopefully a sign of great battles to come when both clubs meet in 1A next season.
The Gorey women travelled to Arklow on Sunday for the semi-final of the Paul Cusack Cup.
As everyone knows, the rivalry between Gorey and Arklow is keen, so it was always going to be a physical game.
Gorey started the game with a strong attack, leaving them 10-0 up with tries from Orla Power and Ann Cumiskey in the early minutes. Both were unsuccessful with conversions.
Arklow were left reeling but came back and used their infamous 'pick and go' tactics. They were quickly shut down by the Gorey defence though.
Line-outs were strong for the game with captain Nuala Kelly throwing with excellence. In the first-half Gorey dominated the scrums, with a couple of steals from hooker Tara Jackson.
Gorey then closed the first-half with another fantastic try from centre Orla Power. The second-half saw Arklow come into attack. They pressed the Gorey defence well and were extremely physical.
Gorey were getting frustrated which led to the only yellow card of the game going to second row Alix Doyle for a deliberate knock-on and disrupting play. Arklow used this to their advantage and soon enough went over for their only try, which was converted successfully.
Gorey however fought back and pushed hard against the Arklow defence. Gorey's hard work and effort eventually led to the final try going to flanker Aislinn Bolger who had an excellent game and defended commendably.
Gorey's Dee Farrell, Sam Wafer and Aoife Crowe were exceptionally good ball-carriers throughout the game. The final score in Arklow was 20-7 to Gorey who now face Balbriggan in the Paul Cusack Cup final in Greystones on Saturday, April 25.
Kick-off is at 1.45 p.m. These two sides have never met before now, but it should be a fantastic match. Come on the Gorey girls!
The Gorey Under-12 squad made what is now the annual trip for this age grade to Carroroe in Galway for the Connemara Cup competition.
The squad left Gorey at midday on Friday and headed to Ballinasloe, stopping in a hotel there for the night, to break the journey. The following morning the nerves really started to build as the team coach made its way to the far side of Spiddal, to the An Ghaeltacht area, where the competition was being held.
Two teams represented the club, captained by Enda McCrea and Aoife Wafer, and took on teams from Skerries, Corinthians, An Ghaeltacht and the Connemara All Blacks. Seven games, some of which were very tight affairs, were played with both Gorey teams remaining undefeated.
One team made it through to the semi-final and having won that faced Skerries in the final. These teams had met in the league format earlier in the day, with Gorey very lucky to come out on top.
The first-half of the final was very even but in the second-half the Gorey boys took over and in the end ran out convincing winners. Massive celebrations broke out at the final whistle which continued long after the cup presentation to Enda.
The lads then headed to a nearby coral beach where some were brave enough to take a dip before heading to their Bean an Tí's for the night. On Sunday a very tired bunch made the long journey home, stopping off in a Playzone in Athlone, before arriving back to the club with the cup proudly displayed on the dashboard.
Gorey: Aoife Wafer, Adam Doyle, Alex McNeil, Cathal Byrne, Dara O'Connor, Darragh Fitzpatrick, Darragh Montague, Dean Wadding, Enda McCrea, Ewan Stephens, Gavin McNulty, Jack Curley, Jack Higgins, John Blehein-Milne, John Kenny, Lee Cushe, Michal Kruczak, Rian Fitzpatrick, Rory Tubritt, Scott Murphy, Seán Sawyer, Shamey O'Hagan, Vinny Porfiri.
Gorey R.F.C. Under-15s enjoyed a fantastic end-of-season tour to Pembroke in Wales. All players, along with some parents and coaches, made the short journey across the sea to visit Oakwood, West Wales Karting and, of course, to play a challenge match against Pembroke R.F.C.
Although a challenge match with nothing but pride at stake, the Gorey lads never treated it as anything less than a must-win, especially with a semi-final and at least one final match to come before the end of the season at home.
Playing with a strong wind across the field, the Gorey team settled quickly but were first to concede when the excellent Pembroke centre cut through the back line and scored a great try which was converted with ease by the their out-half.
Gorey reduced the lead to two with a well-taken try scored by Jack Ryan before an exchange of tries left the game tightly balanced at half-time.
Some fresh legs were introduced in the second-half and, after further tries by Jack Ryan, James Lawlor and Toby Falconer, Gorey came out the winners on a scoreline of 34 to 26.
The Pembroke club were extremely hospitable and great fun and food followed after the game with an impending ferry trip keeping Gorey eyes on the clock!
A special thanks to team manager Declan Gibney for organising the trip and to Pembroke R.F.C. for a tough but hugely-enjoyable game and their friendly hospitality at all times.
Team: Greg Bolger, Flynn Donnelly, Seán Wafer, Henry Kennedy, Ryan Gibney, Oran Fitzpatrick, Cillian Tomkins, Cormac Walsh, Donogh Mc Givern, Tim O'Brien, James Lawlor, Toby Falconer, Frank Kavanagh, Cian Sullivan, Thomas Doyle, Luke Delaney, Luke Hedderman, Seán Newens, Tadgh O'Neill, Dylan Sawyer, Josh Doyle, Mark Kehoe, Patrick O'Hagan, Jack Ryan.
The Mr. Oil county Intermediate road race championships took place in Wexford on Sunday hosted by Menapians A.C.
The ladies' race took place over the 4k loop at 12 noon in bright sunshine but with a stiff breeze. First home for the club was Mary Doyle in a time of 16.21 and in third place overall.
Others competing were Lillian Lawless, Louise Gregan, Ciara Bowe, Cathy Maher, Claire Gibbons, Belinda Kehoe, Mary Carton, Eilish Kehoe, Louise Kehoe and Yvette Deacon.
There was fantastic running from the ladies who won first team prize with Mary Doyle, Lillian Lawless, Louise Gregan and Ciara Bowe the first four home for the club. Well done to everyone who fielded out.
Following the ladies' race, the men lined up to compete over the 8k route. Competing for S.B.R. were Jim O'Malley, Adrian Doyle, Patrick Curley, John Murphy and Shane Gregan. Well done to all. Full results are on the Wexford Athletics web page.
Tom and Dena Hogan were in winning form at the Moyne Rangers 5k race in Enniscorthy on Sunday. Tom led the way and was first to cross the line. Dena showed she could do the same and was first home for the ladies, fresh from her win earlier in the week in the Tullow G.A.A. 5k race.
Brendan Kehoe also featured in fourth place and won his category. Pat Creane and Lisa Breen also ran well. Juvenile Tomás Breen was first home in his category. Well done to all.
Myles Gibbons was in action on Sunday morning in the Blackwater 10k and was first to cross the line in a time of 34.47. Well done Myles.
S.B.R. were represented across the water on Sunday as Chris Proby travelled to compete in the Manchester marathon. He had a fantastic run and clocked a P.B. in a time of 3.06. Well done Chris.
Training continues on Monday at the track in Enniscorthy between 6-7 p.m. for Juveniles and 7-8 p.m. for adults. You can run laps of the track at your own pace or join in some group speed work. It's suitable for all abilities, and all members are welcome.
Ladies' training also continues on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Ferns G.A.A. grounds under lights with Paul Gibbons.
Again it's suitable for all abilities and all are welcome so please come along and try it out.
A group also meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. to run a few miles. All are welcome to join in.
If anybody is interested in joining S.B.R. and would like further information, please contact our Secretary, Louise Kehoe, on 086-8276661 or P.R.O., Marie Cullen, on 087-2776785.