By Dermot O’Mahony
Friday April 23 2010
A FORTNIGHT ago we were spoiled by a superb weekend of top class European rugby that produced three Irish semi-finalists, with no game being more dramatic than Leinster's cliff-hanger with Clermont Auvergne.
Last weekend it was the turn of the top junior clubs in Leinster to create similar fireworks with Seapoint completing an outstanding season in Monivea to qualify for the AIB League, while Boyne beat Tullamore for the second year in succession in a scintillating Newstalk Provincial Towns Cup Final.
Boyne travelled to Edenderry with great trepidation on Sunday last to meet Cill Dara in the Semi Final of the Leinster Provincial Towns Cup. The Drogheda side were defending the trophy, won for the first time last year. Cill Dara had inflicted a rare defeat on Boyne in the Leinster League back in February and confidence was high in the Kildare camp that they could repeat the result.
Following some concern, due to weather conditions the previous week, the Edenderry grounds were in superb condition and the weather matched the efforts of the host club.
That the Leinster Provincial Towns Cup has regained its Prestige and pride of place among the competing clubs and indeed the rugby fraternity of the province, there can be no doubt. Once again, the holders, Boyne, were involved in an epic encounter with an Enniscorthy team who came to Shamrock Lodge determined to hold on to their latter season unbeaten run and extend it to include a cup semi final spot. That they did not realise this ambition was down to a try that was worthy of try of the season in any grade.
Cup matches do not come any better than this. The Black Gates venue is a renowned ground for cup upsets and Tullow came close once again to upsetting the form book with a riveting cup display against the holders, Boyne. The home team got off to a dream start when within three minutes they scored a magnificent try, when they tore into the Boyne forwards and moved their attack into the opposition half.
Boyne were assured of second place in this league going into this game which, ended their league campaign. However, whilst the result may not have altered their league position, such is the thoroughness of their coach, Craig McGrath, he demanded full concentration from his squad and, apart from wanting to end on a winning note, his eyes were firmly fixed on preparing for this weekends PTC encounter with tough opposition, Tullow.
Defending Champions Boyne were drawn away to Tullow in the 2nd round of the Newstalk Provincial Towns Cup. Having received a bye in the 1st round this will be a tough challenge for the holders. The round 2 games will be held on Sunday 14th March. The draw in full and the rest of the fixture dates is as follows
Sunday 14th March
· Tullamore v Arklow
· Wicklow v Clondalkin
· New Ross v Mullingar
· Cill Dara v Athy
· Tullow v Boyne
· Newbridge v Portlaoise
· Dundalk v Longford
· Wexford Wanderers v Enniscorthy
· Sunday 21st March - 3rd round
These sides certainly provide their supporters with top class football when they meet. Shades of last years cup final were evident during this game with the teams concentrating on fast open rugby. Conditions were conducive to this type of football with the Shamrock Lodge pitch in good condition having earlier accomodated the seconds match which saw Tullamore win the game and also the league with their 16pts to 8pts victory over Boyne.
Any hopes that Boyne may have had before this game, of clinging on to Seapoints tails, were certainly dashed on the edges of the plains of the Curragh on Sunday last when Cill Dara took the spoils in a tough encounter. The home side were also anxious to keep themselves in contention for a top four place and also avoid dropping into the lower regions of the league where there is a dog fight going on to avoid relegation. A large home contingent were very happy at the end of this game when their team overcame the high flying visitors.
Boyne resumed their league campaign at Shamrock Lodge on Saturday last against league strugglers Monkstown. The recent spell of bad weather took its toll on the pitch and left the underfoot conditions very heavy. However, it stood the test well and both sides made light of the conditions to provide the attendance with a good game of rugby. Monkstown belied their league table position and gave the home side a good run for the 80 minutes.