Ashbourne Reach Quarterfinal of Provincial Towns Cup
Ashbourne reached the quarterfinal of the Towns Cup with an extra time win over Naas, who were fancied to go all the way this season, by 20 points to 13. Any win at the Co Kildare is a big ask, but this one was special. It was special as Ashbourne were missing their usual 8, 9 axis with Simon Deevy and Gavin Kennedy carrying injuries, while Jeff Mahon and Mitchell O’Meara were also missing from the All Ireland Junior Cup winning side. That said their replacements showed there is depth at the club now.
It was a bright and dry afternoon in Naas, but it is a heavy pitch and it was to the advantage of the home side. And it was Naas who took the lead in the 17th minute when a mix up in the Ashbourne defense allowed the Naas winger gather a box kick from the home 9, and score a converted try. It was against the run of play with Naas in serious difficulty in the scrum and Ashbourne dominant in the line out as well. Casey Dunne did have a shot at goal but it was off and Naas held firm with Ashbourne unable to break through until Dunne did convert a kick in the 28th minute. This score held all the way to the break but it was a real good Towns Cup game and like a good game it was very close at 7 points to 3.
Ashbourne added to their injuries with Crotty being replaced by Sherrard and hill was getting steeper. That said Ashbourne have shown a lot of heart and with the young guns like Jake Wall, Matt Connolly, Conor Hurley and Jack O’Brien, they are never really beaten. And it was still 7 points to 3 for Naas heading into the last 20 minutes but in true cup fashion the game was only starting.
In the 64th minute Matt Connolly hit the line at a great angle to make to score a try from 15 meters out to put Ashbourne ahead for the first time. Dunne converted and Ashbourne now lead by 10 points to 7. But Naas were not finished. They continued to struggle in the set piece but continued to fight and they tied it up in the 74th minute with a well-taken penalty. It was there to be won by either side and Dunne had two long range chances to win the game but extra time beckoned.
It took just 5 minutes of extra time for Ashbourne to regain the lead when Ashbourne were awarded a penalty try. Mark Rooney, making a rare appearance for his side came on as a sub and when he hacked on past the last man he was tackled without the ball, when a try was certain. Dunne converted. But Naas hit back with a penalty as it went into the break of ET with Ashbourne leading by 17 points to 13.
A Dunne penalty restored the 7 point lead after the break and Ashbourne were able to see out the win and a return to the quarterfinal for the first since the 2014 campaign when the won the cup – is that a good omen? They have drawn Gorey in Ashbourne on the 19th of March, another tough assignment.
Team: Dermot Colreavy, Matt Connolly, Adam Martin, Jack O’Brien, Casey Dunne, Donal Crotty (Capt.), Stephen O’Neill, Jake Wall, James Rooney, Conor Hurley, Ciaran Roche, Sean Kent, Mark Behan, James McCaghy, Alan Wall
Subs: Danny Norton, Frank Keegan, Mark Rooney, Adam Sherrard, and Eddie Conaty
Scorers: Tries – Matt Connolly x 1, Penalty Try X 1,
Penalties: Casey Dunne x 2
Conversions: Casey Dunne x 2