Holders dig deep to qualify for Irish Junior Cup semi
Enniscorthy faced their toughest task of the season on Saturday when they had to dig deep to overcome a very good Co. Antrim team, Ballyclare, and in doing so qualified for the All-Ireland Junior Cup semi-final.
Enniscorthy 31 Ballyclare 13
The final scoreline does flatter the home team which scored two late tries to eventually finish off the visitors. Enniscorthy had to defend for most of the first-half which they did splendidly, and it was disciplined defence too as they did not concede any penalties.
The opening score came against the run of play on 18 minutes when Killian Lett took the ball out of defence and made 40 metres. He was eventually tackled but he picked the ball again and popped it off to Arthur Dunne who sent in number 8 Nick Doyle under the post for the opening try. Ivan Poole added the conversion.
Ballyclare came storming back and were rewarded with a penalty courtesy of the boot of out-half Robert Reid. Enniscorthy eventually settled in to a comfortable pattern of defence and kept the visitors out.
The second-half started in similar style but Enniscorthy did get more ball. Reid kicked a second penalty though after the Enniscorthy backs strayed offside.
It was a tough and tense affair but at last a breakthrough arrived on 50 minutes when Enniscorthy's backs at last got some rhythm and they had the visitors under rare pressure in their own '22.
Ballyclare were awarded a scrum five metres from their own line and number 8 James McKinstry picked from the back but ran into Enniscorthy's Daniel Pim who robbed him and crossed the line.
Poole added the conversion for a 14-6 lead and to make it better he followed up with a penalty to extend the lead to 17-6.
Ballyclare were not finished however, and with eight minutes remaining they scored a try. Their right wing, James Greer, scored in the corner and Reid added a superb conversion to close the gap to four points, resulting in a nervy finish for the home team.
Ross Barbour produced some magic when he kicked a ball ahead and caught it at speed and then off-loaded to Nick Doyle who was stopped just short of the line.
The crucial score did come with two minutes remaining when a super Greg Jacob drive set up a maul, and as the ball was moved left and right Ivan Poole found a gap and drove inside the '22 for the third try. He also added the conversion and suddenly there was some daylight at last.
Ballyclare still didn't lie down and they put the Enniscorthy defence under real pressure again, but terrific work from young gun Nick Doyle saw him win a crucial ball. His swift pass set Ivan Jacob free down the right wing on a 60-metre run, and he scored while Ivan Poole added the conversion for a 31-13 win.
Nick Doyle, Thomas Stamp (man of the match) and Joe Carley when coming off the bench were superb. Killian Lett and Daniel Pim controlled the defence and half-backs Arthur Dunne and Ivan Poole never panicked when the pressure was on.
Team: Paddy Waters, Davy Murphy (James Doyle), Angelo Todisco, Joe Bulmer (Joe Carley), Thomas Stamp, Greg Jacob, Tom Ryan (John Daly), Arthur Dunne (David Shore), Ivan Poole, Ivan Jacob, Daniel Pim (capt.), Killian Lett, Hughie O'Neill, David O'Dwyer (Ross Barbour).
Saturday's Leinster League Division 1A match is away to Malahide at 2.30 p.m.