Oak Park is the venue this Saturday at 3pm as Carlow and Tullow go head to head in the Provincial Towns Plate. The Europa League equivalent for domestic rugby, Carlow and Tullow take their place in the second round of the plate having already been knocked out of this year’s Provincial Towns Cup.
It will be the first time that the sides have been able to face each other in competitive action this season having been stablemates in Division 1B last year before Carlow’s relegation to Division 2A. While it will remain the same for next season as Carlow narrowly missed out on a promotion play-off place, local bragging rights make this one of the more favourable ties of the round.
Looking back to 2014/15 with both sides in Division 1B, albeit a season Carlow will want to forget, Tullow beat Carlow at Oak Park at the first time of asking 30-3, the sides playing out a draw in January of last year 21-21 at Black Gates.
League-wise, Carlow certainly made amends for the disappointment of 2015 with a strong showing in Division 2A but the wind ebbed from their sails somewhat in January, slipping from a possible league title, to play-off place, to missing out altogether and finishing the season in third.
Listen: Tullow’s Willie O’Brien speaks to KCLR about their derby clash this weekend.
Tullow, for their part, could have been looking at a relegation play-off after their post-Christmas swing was halted. Bonus points kept Tullow’s 1B standing alive for next season but they’ll have a lot of work to do for 2017. They head to Oak Park on the back of two league defeats including their season closing loss 43-33 at home to Malahide.
Comparing the fortunes of both sides this season, Carlow would certainly look like the favourites but as we said with Kilkenny and Enniscorthy – when it comes to the cup competitions, anything goes.
Also this weekend Mullingar, knocked out in the second round by Kilkenny on a narrow 7-6 scoreline, face 2014 Towns Cup winners Ashbourne, the victors there taking on the winners of Carlow and Tullow in the next round.
Elsewhere, Athy host Boyne, Tullow and Wexford Wanderers go head to head, Cill Dara meet Dundalk and Portarlington welcome North Kildare. Due to concessions from Midland Warriors and New Ross, Longford and Newbridge already have a quarter-final place booked for the first weekend in April.