Enniscorthy lose grip on title
Malahide prevail by point to capture league honours
Enniscorthy relinquished their Leinster League Division 1A crown to Malahide before a large crowd at Ross Road on Sunday, losing by just one point (17-16).
Malahide 17 Enniscorthy 16
They trailed 10-6 at half-time having played with a strong wind but were also blown off course by a large burst of prolonged rain which upset their rhythm. They also made far too many basic errors and conceded way too many penalties.
The visitors took full advantage and scored a superb early try created by their two outstanding players, half-backs Hugo Nolan (9) and Killian Keane (10), with Conal Keane scoring in the corner. Killian Keane added the conversion.
It was a score that settled the visitors but it put even more pressure on the home team to deliver. Enniscorthy did go into the game knowing they had to win by a margin of eight points which was pressure in itself.
Enniscorthy, chasing that target, appeared to be forcing the game and as a result they made far too many mistakes and basic errors. On the other hand, Malahide knew that they had that cushion and played accordingly, and after 20 minutes Keane added a penalty to stretch the lead.
Enniscorthy eventually got some quality possession, and just before half-time out-half Ivan Poole kicked two superb penalties to leave the visitors leading 10-6 at the break.
Enniscorthy now had to turn around and face the elements in the second 40 minutes, and they played much better as at last their backs got a lot more possession, but they lost prop forward Angelo Todisco to a yellow card.
The task for the home team was to get much more difficult when Malahide scored a second try. Once again a superb pass from scrum-half Hugo Nolan made the space for full-back David Mongan to score, and with Keane adding the conversion the lead was now pushed out to eleven points.
Enniscorthy to their credit responded five minutes later with a try. Tom Ryan made a fine break to set up a ruck and, ably assisted by Tomás Stamp, they at last moved the ball at pace and Ross Barbour scored.
Ivan Poole just pushed the conversion wide into the difficult strong wind.
Enniscorthy were now at last playing the free-flowing rugby they have become accustomed to, and Malahide began to feel the pressure. With seven minutes remaining Enniscorthy scored their second try.
This time Kilian Lett broke through the cover and from the resulting ruck Tom Ryan again picked and drove for the line. Desperate Malahide defending kept them out, but Angelo Todisco kept the move going and eventually captain Daniel Pim got in to reduce the lead to the minimum. Poole again missed the difficult conversion.
Enniscorthy were now hammering the Malahide line but the league leaders' defence was solid and the home team eventually ran out of time.
The Enniscorthy team and supporters were devastated at the final whistle after getting so close.
'Obviously we are very disappointed and I know it came down to the last game but we must also focus on the dropped points during the campaign,' team manager David Wrafter said.
'We looked anxious for long periods as we chased the target of an eight-point win. The heavy rain showers in the first-half didn't help but, no excuses, Malahide beat us twice and they deserve to win the league.
'We are very disappointed with our performance today though, as we just didn't deliver when he had to.'
Enniscorthy are still in the Provincial Towns Cup and they face the holders, Wicklow, in the quarter-final this coming Sunday in Ross Road at 3 p.m.
Team: Angelo Todisco, Davy Murphy, Paddy Waters, Tomás Stamp, Joe Bulmer, Tom Ryan, Greg Jacob, Nick Doyle, Evan Lett, Ivan Poole, Hughie O'Neill, Daniel Pim (capt.), Killian Lett, Ivan Jacob, Ross Barbour, Subs used: Arthur Dunne, David O'Dwyer, Tony White, James Doyle, John Daly.