Provincial Towns Cup claimed for first time since 1989 as Tullow are beaten in hard-fought final
Enniscorthy RFC lift the Towns Cup after hard-fought battle with Tullow CELEBRATIONS erupted in Portarlington on Sunday evening as Enniscorthy RFC held on to take this year's Provincial Towns Cup after a tough battle with their counterparts from Tullow.
The winners made it their sixth provincial title since their last the Towns Cup win in 1989 and coming away from Portarlington they had their just rewards. With Neptune Collonges having won the Grand National in Aintree under jockey Darryl Jacob it would prove to be a great weekend for his family as his brother Alan performed outstandingly at scrum half for the victors.
Enniscorthy were favoured by many going into this match, based primarily on how they operate in Division 1A of the Leinster League while Tullow are in 1B, and the divisional difference was evident at times with Enniscorty edging the pace and power, particularly in the opening stages as they dominated the scrum and pinned Tullow into their own half.
Ivan Poole was a maestro at ten, consistently forcing difficult balls down the throat of the Tullow defence. Couple that with a pack who went into contact like men possessed and you had the ingredients for a winning feast, but it would take twenty minutes of feeling each other up before either side could truly penetrate.
The Enniscorthy pack were outstanding in the first half with Tony Ryan leading the charge and indeed the pack were forceful when it came to captain Ross Barbour going over for the first try of the afternoon. The conversion was missed narrowly by Poole but four minutes later he put over a stunning penalty and it was all Enniscorthy at that stage.
The confidence was up with the Vinegar Hill men, and Poole lead the way attempting an ambitious penalty from half way but distance deserted him. He missed another when Enniscorthy still dominated and this dominance was finally capped off as Poole and Barbour combined to put winger Hughie O'neill in for his side's second try, which Poole converted, with all the while the hard work beign done done by Leech,, O'brien and Dalton as the front eight counted up the hits.
The final three minutes of the half belonged to Tullow. William O'brien, Rob Porter and Peter Fitzgerald got physical and Canavan would slot two penalties to leave it 15-6 at half time.
The second half started as the first had ended with good Tullow pressure and Canavan booted over a super penalty from the sideline. However with five minutes played Enniscorthy showed how playing in division 1A will benefit a team and when scrum half Alan Jacob used his class to spread wide it was too easy for Poole, Damien Mccabe and finally Fiacre Ryan to combine superbly with great hands to isolate a Tullow winger and they led 20-9.
Tullow ran in the subs and they had an impact with Tullow gaining some momentum forcing the leaders into error and Canavan booted the penalty for 20-12. Enniscorthy still never looked like fading and they forced two penalties, with Poole obliging with one of them as he made it 23-12.
He was given a golden opportunity to add a further three points but his miss left Tullow with a glimmer of hope.
The impressive Tony Ryan and substitute Paddy Waters aided by Graham Murphy were given the task of keeping Tullow out in the final minutes.
It seemed there would be no breakthrough but Tullow's patience paid off when Rob Porter ploughed over the try line in injury time, the conversion was missed and although there was enough time for a restart and Tullow gathered possession but a defence that would have stopped goliath forced a final penalty concession and the cheer that went up could be heared echoed around Vinegar Hill as Enniscorthy were champions.