For local rugby fans, this past weekend proved something of a whirlwind for Carlow, Kilkenny and Tullow fans when it comes to the Leinster League.
Tullow will be delighted with their performance on the road against a Longford side that have disappointed in Division 1B of the Leinster League this season. Having been first to score with an unconverted try, the visitors saw Conor Duffy sin-binned before halftime, then conceding a Diarmuid Masterson try to go into the break 8-5 down.
With the game still in the balance in the early exchanges of the second half, Tullow peeled away with three unanswered tries to collect a bonus point on the way to a 24-8 win. That victory, coupled with defeat for pre-game league leaders Wicklow against Athy means the men from Black Gates are sitting top of Division 1B with three points to spare and two games left in the season – at home to Dundalk on March 5 before finishing their campaign away to Cill Dara on 26 March.
Having beaten them in the Provincial Towns Cup a week ago, Carlow will be disappointed to have let their first-half momentum evaporate on Sunday. In an important game for both sides, Carlow fell with the last play of the game for a third time this season.
Three penalties from the boot of Ben Crotty, coupled with an intercept try from Caomhan Brennan guided Carlow to a 16-5 lead at the break, extended out to 23-5 through a Wes Shirley try five minutes after the restart. Second-half injuries to Dave McDermott and Neil Slater took the wind out of Carlow’s sails somewhat as Dundalk capitalised on penalty opportunities. Three Dundalk tries in a 13-minute spell midway through the second half turned the tide completely with the home side edging ahead 24-23. Ben Crotty crossed the line himself to restore a four-point lead for Carlow but with the very last play of the game, Dundalk tucked away one final try to run out 29-28 winners.
While Carlow will collect the losing bonus point, they remain in fourth with games still to play against Cill Dara (home, 5 March) and Wicklow (away, 26 March).
Where Carlow lost their game on the last play of the day on Sunday, Kilkenny used that opportunity to return league fate to their own hands with a last gasp 42-41 win over Monkstown having come back from 14-0 down in the first half.
Struggling for wins this season, the result lifts Kilkenny off the bottom of Division 1A and back to sixth in the table and very much heightens their prospects of remaining in Division 1A for the 2023/24 season.
All three sides are in Provincial Towns Cup action this weekend with Carlow set to take on New Ross, Kilkenny hosting Ashbourne while Tullow meet Boyne, all games at home with a 3pm kick off. The quarter-final draws will be made in wake of this Sunday’s games.
2023 Provincial Towns Cup Round 2 Draw
- Tullamore v Skerries
- Carlow v New Ross
- Cill Dara v Wicklow
- Kilkenny v Ashbourne
- Tullow v Boyne
- Enniscorthy v Portlaoise
- Naas v Newbridge
- Wexford v Gorey
Additional reporting John Shirley, Carlow RFC.