Half of Saturday’s first round clashes produced away wins in the Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup, with Ballyclare and Grosvenor both winning big on their travels and Crosshaven upsetting 2016 finalists Instonians.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND JUNIOR CUP FIRST ROUND: Saturday, October 26
Ashbourne 31 Creggs 22, Milltown
Castlebar 3 Ballyclare 36, Cloondeash
Connemara 22 Gorey 25, Monastery Field
Dromore 38 Newcastle West 10, Barban Hill
Instonians 21 Crosshaven 25, Shaw’s Bridge
Kilfeacle & District 28 Wicklow 19, Morrissey Park
Kilkenny 49 Monivea 19, Foulkstown
Richmond 15 Grosvenor 44, Richmond Park
Defending champions Ashbourne took a step closer to their fourth title in-a-row thanks to a hard-earned 31-22 home win over Creggs. The Meath men needed a final-quarter surge to seal the result and ever-reliable scrum half and captain Gavin Kennedy played a pivotal role again.
Kennedy kicked 14 points and provided the assist for Andrew Whittaker’s late clinching try, but Ashbourne, who also had a Colm Craigie five-pointer and a penalty try, were given a stern test by their Connacht challengers who had fought back from 23-8 down to make it a one-point game at one stage.
Kennedy and his team-mates are in for another tough encounter when they visit Leinster rivals Gorey in the November 16 quarter-finals. The Wexford outfit finished the stronger in Clifden where they clipped Connemara’s wings, prevailing 25-22 thanks to two coolly-struck closing penalties from out-half Mark Kehoe.
It was three tries each at the picturesque Monastery Field with Gorey’s scores claimed by Clem Power, who scored from a Kehoe chip through, Flynn Donnelly and Jordan Ahern, who profited from a powerful scrum shove.
Ballyclare’s reward for winning 36-3 in Castlebar is a quarter-final at home to Crosshaven. First half tries from Matthew Coulter and Owen Kirk were followed by further scores from former Ulster prop Ricky Lutton, Adam Moore, who crossed from a lineout maul, Joel McBride and Matthew McDowell.
2011 champions Crosshaven bounced back from a 13-point deficit to claim the scalp of Instonians at Shaw’s Bridge. Triumphing 25-21, the Seasiders had tries from Stephen Curran, Sean Gray and influential number 8 Jamie Kind, with Cian McGovern chipping in with a crucial 10 points from the tee.
Crosshaven are not the only Munster club left standing, as Willie Staunton’s Kilfeace & District are also through. They gained some revenge for their cup exit last year at the hands of Wicklow, using a first half wind advantage to exert scoreboard pressure and eventually register a 28-19 victory.
George Naoupu’s Wicklow team were 18-0 in arrears by half-time, with Kilfeacle’s Kevin Kinane crashing over from a scrum and Cillian Noonan doing well with an improvised finish in the corner. Player-coach Staunton kicked the other eight points.
Naoupu’s introduction during the second half helped visitors Wicklow to fight back strongly. Michael Doyle bagged a brace of tries and Hugo Wojnar also got over out wide. However, Kilfeacle kept their noses in front with Staunton landing a penalty and Ricky Whitney burrowing over for a vital seven-pointer.
Kilfeacle will have home advantage against Kilkenny in the last-eight, the cup newcomers having seen off Monivea 49-19 in very impressive fashion. Centres Joe Manuel and Hugh Lane were in brilliant form for try-hungry Kilkenny who also had big performances from Rob Boyd, Finn Connelly, George French and Kyle Roche.
The last quarter-final will be an all-Ulster affair when Co. Down outfit Dromore welcome east Belfast’s Grosvenor to Barban Hill. Aaron Lyttle and Richard Dickson made their competitive debuts for Dromore off the bench in a convincing six-try 38-10 success at home to Ger Earls’ Newcastle West.
Dromore built a 24-3 half-time advantage, and despite Sean Herlihy converting his own try to add to his first half penalty, Earls’ charges were well beaten on the day. Ben Heath (2), Andrew Rutledge, Dylan Cobb, Andrew Black and Adam Donald notched the victors’ tries.
Grosvenor also toppled Limerick opposition, with first half tries from Jordan Brown and Mitch McComb giving them a 10-8 lead at Richmond. A slick back-line break and try from Shane Halpin boosted the home side before the interval.
The Ulstermen, who were making their All-Ireland Junior Cup debut, went on to dominate the final 40 minutes, though, with out-half Peter Davidson’s astute tactical kicking keeping them on the front foot and pinning Richmond back.
The damage on the scoreboard was done by further tries from Brown, Willie Rea, Davidson and Daniel Bowden. Goal-kicker Tim Emerson finished with a 14-point haul in a comprehensive 44-15 away triumph.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND JUNIOR CUP QUARTER-FINALS: Saturday, November 16
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Gorey v Ashbourne, Clonattin Road
Kilfeacle & District v Kilkenny, Morrissey Park
Ballyclare v Crosshaven, the Cloughan
Dromore v Grosvenor, Barban Hill
PREVIOUS CHAMPIONS –
2019 – Ashbourne
2018 – Ashbourne
2017 – Ashbourne
2016 – Enniscorthy
2015 – Dundalk
2014 – Enniscorthy
2013 – Tullamore
2012 – Tullamore
2011 – Crosshaven
2010 – City of Derry
2009 – Tullamore
2008 – Navan
2007 – Seapoint
2006 – Rainey Old Boys