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South East Final

Wicklow 1st XV 23 Enniscorthy 1st XV 20

Wicklows 1st XV created another special piece of history on Sunday by beating Enniscorthy in the 2015/2016 South East Final. In doing so they confirmed that their win over the reigning Leinster League 1A Champions and the All Ireland Cup holders, in the Provincial Towns Cup final in May was no fluke.

The game was played in front of a large crowd on a fantastic playing surface. The sun was shining and there was a strong diagonal crosswind that favoured Enniscorthy in the first half. A very fired up Enniscorthy were clearly out to set the record straight and tore into Wicklow from the off .

 

They soon cut Wicklow open when their centre went through the middle like a hot knife through butter and score beneath the posts. The imple conversion from Ivan Poole made it 0 – 7 to the visitors. 
The Wexford men didn’t take their foot off the pedal and added another three points from the boot of poole after 15 minutes to extend their lead to 0 – 10.

Wicklow worked their way into Enniscorthy territory but a good spell of pressure led to nothing as a breakaway try from a blocked kick stretched the lead to 17 points. Wicklow looked in some trouble as Enniscorthy were playing far better rugby. 
To their credit they didn’t panic and a series of scrums beneath the posts led to a penalty try which Niall Earls converted to make it 7 – 17 approaching the break.

Enniscorthys lethal backs cut Wicklow open again and only outstanding defensive work by Niall Earls and John Jenkinson saved Wicklow from what could well been a winning score.
Wicklow cleared their lines and the halftime whistle went much to the relief of the large home support.

The second half was a completely different ball game. Wicklow began to tighten things up and get a grip with the Enniscorthy attack. Three Niall Earls penalties in quick succession brought the score to 16 – 17 with twenty minutes remaining.

Ivan Poole gave Enniscorthy some breathing space with a penalty of his own to make it 16 – 20 in the sixty fifth minute. Enniscorthy looked to be in for another try but the tough judge brought play back for a foot in touch.

With ten minutes left to play, after a withering series of pick and drives by Wicklow, the ball was moved wide to Dean Leonard who did brilliantly to get over in the corner to put Wicklow in front for the first time by 21 – 20. Niall Earls converted brilliantly to stretch the lead to 23 – 20 as injury time approached.

Enniscorthy attacked again. Moving the ball wide at every opportunity. Wicklow defended with real aggression and intent and forced a number of crucial turnovers. Michael Doyle and Jack McKenna were to the fore and the siege was lifted.

There was a tense delay after an accidental collision between an Enniscorthy player and Wicklow mentor Mick Higgins on the sideline.

An interminable injury time saw Wicklow repel attack after attack from an increasingly desperate Enniscorthy. Eventually the final whistle went, Ashtown Lane erupted, Wicklow had won.

This was an important win for the club. The South East trophy has only been won once since 1973. More importantly it showed the determination, resolve and potential of this young side. It proved that their win over Enniscorthy in May wasn’t a one off and that they are capable of beating anyone on their day.

This win has to give Niall Earls men real confidence as they prepare for the crucial Leinster league program which kicks off with a tough away fixture to a resurgent Tullow side in two weeks time.

Squad: Timmy Donovan, Eanna Kileen, Shane Byrne, Fergal Walsh, John Jenkinson, Andy Doyle, Mikey Doyle, Barry Hurley, Denis Higgins, Niall Earls, Ben Armstrong, Shane Farrar, Ben Porter, Ben Armstrong, Jonny Butler, Alex Porter, Ally Byrne, Mark Cullen, Jack McKenna, Dave Nicholson

 

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