Towns Cup to start Sunday
Wanderers will host Naas
The 92nd Leinster Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup will kick off at Park Lane on January 29 when Wexford Wanderers host Naas.
The competition, which is once again sponsored by Bank of Ireland for a fourth season, is the prestige event for all rural clubs in Leinster and with good reason.
The competition in its current guise has been in existence since 1926.
However, it was preceded by the Leinster Junior Challenge Cup which was first contested in 1889.
Wexford Wanderers have made the final on five occasions, in 1930, 1933, 1941, 1960 and 1966.
The only occasion Wanderers won the Cup was in 1930, a year after the club's formation when the side captained by Tom Walsh defeated Athy on a scoreline of 6-3 in the decider.
Speaking at the presentation of the match ball with local Manager Andrew Owen, at the Bank of Ireland branch at Custom House Quay, Wexford Wanderers club President Brian McGonagle highlighted the ongoing support of Bank of Ireland to Leinster Rugby both at the prestige club level with the Leinster Senior team competing on the European stage in the Champions Cup and Pro 12 competitions, and also in local communities such as Wexford who benefit from the association through the Provincial Towns Cup and other initiatives.
Wexford Wanderers club captain Aidan Stewart noted that for many Junior rugby players in the province the prospect of being part of a team competing in the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup was the highlight of their rugby playing careers.
The game at Park Lane will kick off at 2.30 p.m. and Wanderers will relish the chance of a crack at one of the larger clubs in the competition.
Wexford 34, New Ross 7: The Wexford Wanderers second XV travelled to Southknock on Sunday in the first act of a double-header fixture against New Ross.
Wanderers came into the game on a run of good form following solid wins over Gorey and Kilkenny after the Christmas break.
The game started with Wanderers getting the best of the early running, and they were rewarded in the tenth minute when out-half Waters slotted over a penalty.
Wanderers continued to press the New Ross back line and on the half-hour mark Willie Morris crashed across the line after sustained pressure by the forwards. Unfortunately, the conversion drifted wide.
New Ross responded with a strong attack in the closing minutes of the half but the Wexford defence held firm and the scoreline at the break was 8-0.
In the second period Wexford stretched their lead through man of the match Richie Waters with tries in the 50th and 55th minutes to increase the scoreline to 20-0.
Despite a rigorous defensive effort by the Wexford men, New Ross responded with a try through number 8 Mick Curtis ten minutes later to reduce the lead.
However, following a great kick through from Vickery, Callum Murphy sped away to recycle the ball and allow the ensuing off-load to captain Richards to score.
From the re-start Wexford again moved the ball quickly and after some grinding forward play Willie Morris crossed for the final score of the contest to leave a scoreline of 34-7 in Wexford's favour.
Of course, the key factor in this is that in a fortnight's time (February 5) both teams will have to do it all over again at the same venue in the Provincial Seconds Towns Cup opening round.
The win firmly places Wanderers in second place in the league with just one round of fixtures remaining, so the visit of third-placed Enniscorthy to Park Lane on February 18 will determine their fate.
In league terms it will be an interesting contest to see if Wanderers can take a hat-trick of derby wins.
Meanwhile, the date for the club annual dinner dance in the Talbot Hotel has been announced as March 17 which will give rugby supporters an added reason to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
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Team: Bob O'Leary, Aaron Smythe, Jason Guerrine, Pat Toomey, Rory O'Connor, Nick Jones, Willie Morris, John Rowe, James Bolger, Richie Waters, Callum Murphy, Chris Vickery, Noel Richards (capt.), Owen Cardiff, Aaron O'Neill. Subs. - Alan Kinsella, Gavin Doyle, John Gannon, Chris Walsh, Dave Kelleher.