The All Ireland Junior champions Enniscorthy beat Ashbourne on Saturday by a score of 40 points to 32 in a cracking game. In the process Ashbourne, the home sides, picked a 4 try bonus point but it was little reward for a much-improved performance from Ashbourne. Following a demoralising defeat the previous week in Malahide, Ashbourne showed great resolve to put right a lot of the issues from the previous week and in their performance on Saturday showed that this side has not become a poor side in space of few months.
The side showed a number of changes from the previous week with a number of players being available but the core of the side was the same. A poor start saw the home sides down by a well-taken Enniscorthy try with 3 minutes but if anything Ashbourne used this to get themselves going.
From the restart Carey kicked deep and Enniscorthy took the ball into contact. The Ashbourne pack met the ball carrier and led by James McCaghy and Jake Wall held him up and won the turnover on the visitors 22. From the scrum Ashbourne had the upper hand and when Enniscorthy failed for a second time to keep the scrum steady to allow Gavin Kennedy to put ball he awarded and indirect penalty. Deevy took a quick tap and drove forward catching the Enniscorthy not 10 meters back. When the play broke down Ashbourne were awarded a full penalty and Kennedy put them into the corner for a line out. McCaghy found Jake Wall who moved the ball to Deevy. McCaghy and then Alan Wall took the ball on. From the ruck Kennedy went back left with a long miss pass and found Deevy who went over in the corner. The team captain Gavin Kennedy slotted the extra 2 points from the touchline to tie the sides at 7 all after 10 minutes.
In fairness to both sides they worked hard and were playing attractive rugby. Enniscorthy put Ashbourne under a lot of pressure but the home defense held firm until the 22nd minute when a penalty was converted to edge Enniscorthy ahead. But Ashbourne came back and 5 minutes later Ashbourne and took the lead. From a ruck on the Enniscorthy 22 Kennedy put a kick behind the visitor’s defensive line and the defender made a mess of clearing under pressure from Mitchel O’Meara and Ashbourne got a 5-meter scrum. Two scrums later, with the front 5 of Wall, McCaghy, Behan, Roche and Kent, the ball breaks right through the hands of Kennedy, Carey and O’Meara. From the ruck in front of the posts Deevy picked and drove straight through the Enniscorthy cover and touched down for 5. Kennedy converted and Ashbourne took a 14 to 10 point lead. Colm Randle came in as a blood substitute for David Carey.
The teams continue to play good rugby with Ashbourne having the upper hand in the scrums but in the lineouts Enniscorthy were functioning well. Keith Kennedy was getting through a lot of work along with Jake Wall both new to the starting team from last week. David Carey was also back in the side at 10 and he brought good control. Jack O’Brien at 13 was been looked after by veteran Adam Sherrard and O’Brien looks at home at this level coming in from the under 20’s side.
And it was one of the wingers who got into the action next. From a lineout through from McCaghy, Ciaran Roche cleaned up the ball and brought it forward. Kennedy and McCaghy combine to go right and Jake Wall recycles and drives forward. Alan Wall joins in and when the ball goes left Kennedy chips behind the cover. The Enniscorthy defender fumbles the ball and Kennedy is on hand to pick it up and pass left to Casey Dune who sprints clear to score in the corner and touches down. Kennedy is off with the conversion. At 19 points to 10 the game goes into halftime.
Enniscorthy come out quickly and with 5 minutes they narrow the gap with a converted try. Two Dunne penalties stretch the Ashbourne lead to 25 points to 17 but the intensity from the visitors was now up a notch. Mark Rooney made his season debut for hard working Keith Kennedy and he always bring a different dimension to the team. But it was Enniscorthy again who score a 7 pointer after some poor tackling by the home defense. At 25 to 24 the pressure was building and it resulted in 2 quick converted penalties to Enniscorthy followed by a well-taken try. Followed by another penalty stretch the visitor’s side to 40 points to 25 heading into injury time.
The reaction from the home was excellent and they worked position down the field. With good run from Matt Connolly and a strong drive from Jake Wall, with Mahon, on for Mark Behan, acting as scrum half moving the ball. Ashbourne are awarded a penalty and Dunne takes a quick tap and moves forward at pace. Spinning out of a tackle he sets up a ruck and good field position. Kennedy drives over the ball and Deevy takes the ball forward. He passes left to Connolly supporting but the ball is tipped forward by Enniscorthy but into the hands of Sherrard join the line at pass. He makes the to just short of the line and gets the ball back on the ground. Sean Kent is there on hand to make a great pick up and scores the 4th bonus point try. Kennedy converts the try for the final score of the name to male it 32 points to 40 for the visitors.
Ashbourne deserved more from this game but great progress has been made in a week and lets hope they can kick on from this as they face into a game with DLSP next Saturday at 3-m in Ashbourne.
Team: Mitchell O’Meara, Casey Dunne, Jack O’Brien, Adam Sherrard, Matt Connolly, David Carey, Gavin Kennedy (Capt.) Simon Deevy, Keith Kennedy, Jake Wall, Ciaran Roche, Sean Kent, Mark Behan, James McCaghy, Alan Wall
Subs: Dan Norton, Frank Keegan, Jeff Mahon, Mark Rooney, Colm Randle
Scorers: Tries – Simon Deevy x 2; Casey Dunne X 1; Sean kent x 1
Penalties: Casey Dunne X 2
Conversions: Gavin Kennedy X 3