Sunday will see Leinster’s Provincial Towns Cup final take place at Ashbourne RFC (kick-off 3.30pm) where Boyne will bid for their first success in the competition and Tullamore, the newly-crowned AIB Junior Cup champions, will attempt a unique cup double.
The 84th Provincial Towns Cup, sponsored by Newstalk, will come to a exciting close this weekend as Tullamore and Boyne go head-to-head in the decider at Ashbourne RFC.
Offaly side Tullamore are chasing a unique cup double, having beaten Navan 23-13 in the recent AIB Junior Cup final in Athlone.
They are four-time winners of the Provincial Towns Cup. Flanker Donal Milne captained them to their last title back in 2006, when they beat Wicklow by a record winning margin of 25-3.
The Drogheda-based Boyne club, which was formed as recently as 1997 by the amalgamation of Drogheda and Delvin, is currently on an unbeaten 10-game game run that stretches back to the end of November.
Delvin actually won the Towns Cup back in 1962, beating Athy 12-0 in Tullamore, but Drogheda lost all four finals they played in between 1967 and 1985 and Boyne also lost the 2005 final to Navan (23-16).
When Boyne and Tullamore met in the Leinster League in February, Boyne emerged victorious from Spollanstown on a 22-8 scoreline. Boyne finished third in Division One and Tullamore were fifth in the table.
This is the blue riband event of provincial rugby in Leinster and a much-sought after prize.
The Provincial Towns Cup was purchased for £25 in 1892 from Wests in Grafton Street, Dublin, and is one of the oldest trophies in existence in Irish rugby.
The cup bears the title of the Leinster Junior Challenge Cup. The first final of the Leinster Junior Cup was staged in 1889 so the present cup is not, in fact, as old as the competition itself.
The cup was first presented in 1892 to the winners Blackrock College. The Leinster Junior Cup was staged for 32 seasons from 1888/89 season until 1925 with no competition being held in 1915 to 1919 due to World War I.
Well known Ireland Internationals who have set out to capture an elusive Towns Cup medal include Mick Doyle, Jimmy Kelly, Willie Duggan, Ned Byrne, Tony Ensor, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Jim Glennon, Phil Lawlor and Geordan Murphy.
Former Ireland hooker and captain Fitzgerald said: “Having played in the Towns Cup, I know full well what effort it takes to win it – a Towns Cup medal is one on the most prized rewards that a player can receive – not just for himself but also for his club. It’s a tournament for heroes.”
Paths To The Final:
Boyne – First Round: Gorey 0 Boyne 19; Second Round: Boyne 14 Tullow 6; Third Round: Boyne 23 Cill Dara 13; Semi-Final: Boyne 45 Clane 8, Donnybrook
Tullamore – First Round: Received a bye; Second Round: Tullamore 13 Athy 3; Third Round: Tullamore 55 Enniscorthy 3; Semi-Final: Tullamore 33 Dundalk 13, Donnybrook
BOYNE: Niall Kerbey; Adam Sherrard, Bevan Duffy, Richard Downey, Brian Howell; Brian Collins, Craig McGrath (capt); Cillian Duffy, Brendan Muldowney, Paddy Cooney, Paddy Muldowney, Ian O’Reilly, Nico Vorster, Hadley Dryden, Eoin Collins.
Replacements: Patrick Shuttleworth, Laurence McEvoy, John O’Callaghan, George Kennedy, Paul Rice.
TULLAMORE: Niall Geraghty; Mark Whelan, Ivor Scully, Aaron Deverell, Colin Hughes; Gearoid O’Grady (capt), Richie Hughes; Ronan Glennon, Cian Glennon, Alvin Bracken, Dave Hanlon, Brian Geraghty, Donal Milne, Cathal Feighery, Colin Finnerty.
Replacements (from): Cian O’Sullivan, Ronan Scally, Andy Melville, Derek Farrell, Philip Gardiner, Mick Harte, Darragh Lowry.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Leinster)