'Scorthy rule the rugby roost
Rugby Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup Final: Enniscorthy 20 Tullow 13
Enniscorthy are the Provincial Towns Cup champions after a gutsy performance saw them edge Tullow in Wicklow Rugby Club on Sunday afternoon last.
The success, the eighth in the history of the club, the third in the last seven renewals, was built on a lightning start that saw the County Wexford boys race into a 12-0 lead in as many minutes.
While they were sharp and intricate in their attacking play to build that early lead, they had to be resolute beyond belief to repel everything their Carlow opponents - the defending champions - had to throw at them thereafter.
For the likes of stalwarts Paddy Waters and captain Ivan Poole, both on the wrong side of 35, this win completes a trio of Towns Cups and cements a fabulous legacy for both within the club.
Yet others, like Tony White, Joe Bulmer and Nick Doyle this is their maiden success with the first string.
For these lads this is huge, Enniscorthy is built on winning and its massively important to get that first taste of success to keep that mentality going.
Enniscorthy started this contest in the right frame of mind, attacking Tullow and hitting them hard from the off. A superb Ivan Poole kick into the corner got them on the front foot in the third minute.
After stealing the line-out, the chance looked like it might be gone when Ivan Jacob burst past a couple of tacklers but lost the ball forward when trying to free his arm when falling towards the line.
However, they managed to keep the pressure on and a line-break by Timmy Morrissey set up another chance inside the '22. A couple of phases later, after Tomás Stamp was halted, Killian Lett popped off a pass to David O'Dwyer at pace and he sliced through the Tullow defence and touched down to the left of the posts.
When Ivan Poole confidently pinged the extras, Enniscorthy had a 7-0 lead with not even nine minutes played. They didn't rest on their early gains, instead the boys from County Wexford went for the jugular.
The Enniscorthy scrum was much vaunted after the 36-5 semi-final win against Division 1A champions Ashbourne. They were showing all that quality early, none more so than when won a penalty against the head in the 11th minute.
It contributed to their second try. From a free-kick they moved the ball through hands from right-to-left, Lett did a lot of the hard work, breaking tackles and setting the gaps for Ivan Jacob to burst through and score in the corner.
This time Poole missed the difficult kick for the extras but Enniscorthy still led 12-0 and looked in complete control. The game settled down for a while after the frantic start, Tullow had more possession but handling errors continually cost them decent field position.
After their scrum won another penalty against the put-in, Enniscorthy took a quick-tap and go in the 27th minute. Tullow initially prevented the advances but Ivan Jacob broke towards the line only to knock-on reaching for the touchdown.
With an air of Walter Hagen about him, referee John Montayne gave Enniscorthy a penalty after an infringement by Frank Murphy on the ground. Poole started the kick outside the left post and allowed the breeze to drift it back between the sticks to make it 15-0.
Pretty much out of the game if they didn't score before half-time, Tullow pressed as the final minutes of the half played out. They got their converted try after their first real period of pressure inside the five when Scott Caldbeck touched down against the foot of the post. Will Canavan added the extras to make it 15-7 at the interval.
After winning a penalty early in the second half, Canavan went for it from the ten-meter line, he had the distance with the breeze but not the line as it drifted wide right. The game settled into a similar pattern with Enniscorthy making a lot of hard yards.
After a long, time consuming drive Enniscorthy won a penalty and potentially handy three points under the posts after great work by Morrissey in the 54th minute but they decided to take it quick and made a real mess of it.
A third penalty against Stephen Smith saw him yellow carded and sin-binned in the 21st minute of the half.
If anything, it spurred Tullow into life and they pulled three points back with a Canavan penalty four minutes later after Enniscorthy were penalised for offside.
With all the momentum Tullow won a penalty in the scrum and Canavan drilled the ball between the posts to make it 15-13 with thirteen minutes remaining. An injury on each side gave Enniscorthy the breather they needed and they turned the tables in the last ten minutes.
From a Tullow line-out, Enniscorthy won possession, Nick Doyle nonchalantly sidestepped Canavan, beat a low tackle and scored a fantastic individual try. With Poole just off the field, Lett took the kick but it wasn't close and the lead was seven with just over six minutes left.
Tullow threw everything they had at Enniscorthy in the last few minutes, they had plenty of possession inside the 22 but the defending was exceptional from the winners and they hung on to take the crown.
The success leaves Enniscorthy just outside the top four in number of Towns Cup wins. County Carlow hold the record with 12 but a few more seasons like this one could see that gap close significantly in the coming years.
Enniscorthy: Richard Dunne, Ivan Jacob, Killian Lett, Daniel Pim, David O'Dwyer, Ivan Poole, Arthur Dunne; Angelo Todisco, David Murphy, Paddy Waters, Tomás Stamp, Joe Bulmer, Timmy Morrissey, Nick Doyle, Tom Ryan. Replacements - Hugh O'Neill, Tony White, Ross Barbour, John Daly, Tom Farrar.
Tullow: Cillian Redmond, Shane Rohan, Tino Mafoe, Keihao Bloomfield, Paul Stephenson, Will Canavan, Gareth Fitzgerald; Scott Caldbeck, Sam Corrigan, Louis Kilcoyle, Joe Waters, Frank Murphy, Kyle Hanbidge, Stephen Smith, John Hanbrodge. Replacements - Aaron O'Byrne, Dylan Leybourne, Jack McDonald, Charlie Ward, Will O'Brien, Martin Cole, Paddy McCall.
Referee: John Montayne