Heartbreak for 'Scorthy despie narrow success
Enniscorthy won the match but Dundalk won the title after an enthralling conclusion to the Leinster League Division 1A in Ross Road on Saturday. It was fitting that it did come down to the final league match to decide who would win the title and there was a fantastic crowd there to support both teams.
Enniscorthy 17 Dundalk 16
Enniscorthy lost just one match whilst Dundalk lost their two matches against the Cathedral town side which does seem unfair, but the bonus system in rugby rewarded Dundalk.
This was a terrific game of rugby played in severe windy conditions which both teams did handle admirably.
Enniscorthy went into the game knowing that they had to win by seven points, and they did to be fair take the game to the visitors with slick use of possession against the wind but the Dundalk defence was superb. Dundalk opened the scoring with an Ultan Murphy penalty after the home team had strayed offside.
Enniscorthy continued to take the game to their opponents and Ivan Jacob did touch down but unfortunately his right boot grazed the touchline and it was disallowed. Just before the break the home team's indiscretions at the breakdown cost them dearly as Murphy slotted two late penalties to push them nine points in front and leave an uphill battle for Enniscorthy. Enniscorthy had a lot of possession in the opening 40 minutes but didn't make it count and it came back to haunt them at the end.
Dundalk flew from the traps at the start of the second-half and Enniscorthy wobbled momentarily. They now had the advantage of the wind behind them and after ten minutes they eventually made the breakthrough.
A long, relieving spiral kick from Ivan Poole went into the visitors' '22 and full-back Stephen McGee first knocked the ball on and then played it on the ground to concede a penalty. It was quickly taken by Paul Bolger who set Killian Lett away under the posts for the first of their three tries. Ivan Poole kicked the conversion from in front of the posts.
The home team suffered a major blow on 58 minutes when referee Tim Townsend sin-binned Killian Lett which appeared harsh. Enniscorthy lost their concentration and when Dundalk quickly ran the resulting penalty the home team were caught off guard. Despite some stern defending, out-half Jonathan Williams crossed close to the posts. It was a crucial score as Murphy added the conversion.
Enniscorthy did eventually respond but with the pressure of having to go for the jugular they did mess up a lot of opportunities through mishandling and dropped balls. The second try came eight minutes from the end when Paul Bolger, who had moved to scrum-half, fired out a fine ball from a ruck and Ivan Jacob flew over in the right corner. The conversion was missed.
Dundalk were now on the rack and the third try came after sustained pressure. Veteran Declan O'Brien touched down for the five-pointer but again Poole missed the conversion. Enniscorthy now realised that the fourth bonus try was on but their efforts were extinguished when Townsend blew the full-time whistle.
The Enniscorthy players were sunk as they watched the Dundalk players celebrate. It was a gallant effort but they gave away far too many penalties which did prove costly at the end. The League Cup was presented to the Dundalk captain, M.J. McKevitt, by Leinster President elect Robert McDermott (Edenderry) who paid tribute to his team and to their opponents. 'Enniscorthy are fantastic team who pushed us right to the wire, we won the war but not the battle,' he added.
Enniscorthy captain Killian Lett was obviously disappointed to get so close. 'I know we will take some consolation from the fact that we did beat the league champions twice, and although we got very close it was a not really down to today as we had coughed up a few bonus point opportunities throughout the season whilst they did pick them up.
Team: James Doyle (Angelo Todisco), David Murphy (James Ruth), Declan O'Brien, Thomas Stamp, Seán Wall, Alan Jacob (Tom Ryan), Timmy Morrissey, Evan Lett (Hughie O'Neill), Killian Lett (capt.), Daniel Pim, Ivan Poole, Ivan Jacob, Ross Barbour.