In a repeat of 2015’s top tournament for junior rugby, Carlow are out of this year’s Provincial Towns Cup at the first hurdle, suffering a 20-6 defeat at the hands of Cill Dara in mixed conditions at Oak Park on Sunday afternoon.
READ: Tullow and Kilkenny secure home draws in Provincial Towns Cup Round 2
John Shirley has the following report…
Report: Carlow v Cill Dara (Sunday 31 January)
Hopes that Carlow would get a good run in the 2016 Leinster Rugby Towns Cup came crashing down on Sunday at Oakpark with a 20 points to 6 reverse to Cill Dara.
With home advantage, Carlow riding high in Section 2A of the Leinster League had real expectations that they would handle Cill Dara, languishing at the bottom on Section 1B. But it didn’t happen for them.
With wind assistance Carlow edged the first half by 6 points to 3. Ritchie Whyte’s two penalties came in the 4th and 38th minutes. In between Cill Dara’s penalty came in the 20th minute on one of their rare visits to the Carlow 22.
In the first half Carlow had the dominant scrum but Cill Dara’s quick heeling rescued them several times. Carlow made fair use of the wind but never really threatened the Cill Dara try line.
Carlow’s large supporting contingent feared that the three point lead wouldn’t be enough when the Kildare men got the wind in their favour.
The Second Half
Carlow started the second half strongly and were pressing in the Cill Dara 22 10minutes in when the game altering sequence arrived.
A huge Cill Dara penalty clearance from under their posts was allowed roll into touch within metres of the Carlow line. Good work by Carlow captain Wes Shirley disrupted the Cill Dara throw in and Carlow actually were awarded a relieving scrum. Carlow won the scrum but then disaster. Instead of Carlow clearing the ball the lively Cill Dara scrumhalf nicked it and dived over for a try. The conversion was missed but Cill Dara were ahead for the first time by 8 points to 6.
For the remainder of the game Carlow’s young side led by Wes Shirley and James Nolan tried valiantly but couldn’t made a breakthrough. The loss of starting props Alan Byrne and Larry McGrath resulted in Cill Dara gaining scrum supremacy and this made Carlow’s task a lot harder.
30 minutes into the 2nd half a back pedalling Carlow scrum enabled Cill Dara in for a converted try. The score was now Cill Dara 15 Carlow 6. To give them their due Carlow’s player continued to take the game to their opponents. Conal Slater put in a couple of good runs but overall Carlow’s efforts lacked cohesion. In the last play of the game Cill Dara crossed for the third try bringing their tally to 20 points.
While the score at 20 points to 6 flattered Cill Dara few would argue but that they were the stronger side on the day.
Carlow XV: Ritchie Whyte, Mark Elmes, Jeff McDermott, Simon Walshe, Peter Hennessey, Fionnan Burke, John Whyte, Larry McGrath, John Farrell, Alan Byrne, Thomas Whitney, Wes Shirley capt, Niall Bermingham, Thomas Ratahi, James Nolan.
Subs used Ross Byrne, Chris Challe, Mark Furey, Conal Slater.
Thanks to John Shirley for the report. Keep up with what’s happening at Carlow Rugby Club on Facebook here.
Next Up For Carlow
Carlow are out again this weekend when they take on New Ross in the Leinster League Division 2A, the rescheduled fixture was due earlier in the year but for a flooded Oak Park pitch.
The home side will need full points as their promotion hopes for 2016 hang by a thread following a recent dip in form.
Photos: Ken McGuire/KCLR