Newbridge will have to wait another year for a shot at the Towns Cup after a semi-final defeat to league rivals Enniscorthy that went to extra time.
Newbridge: 16 (AET)
With five minutes to go and six-point lead Newbridge couldn’t hold out against the Wexford men who were able to even the score and play another 20 minutes.
There were top class performances all round for Newbridge with winger Dave Hogan again proving his value to the team, while the back row of Ronan Mangan, Jonny Downey and Darrell O’Hora were superb.
The first half saw Enniscorthy dominating in terms of possession and territory who counter-attacked from Newbridge attempts to clear the pressure.
But it was Newbridge who proved more clinical in the first half, taking all ten points on offer while Enniscorthy missed an early drop goal and kickable penalty just before half time.
The first score came when outhalf Harry Murphy was hit with a late tackle as he kicked from his 22.
Karl Darragh stepped up to take the penalty from where the ball landed just inside the Enniscorthy and slotted over the long range kick.
Just at the end of the first quarter Enniscorthy were again on the attack and it took a scramble tackle to deny a score.
It was Newbridge who reacted first to a loose pass and Darragh lofted a cross-kick for Hogan who ran from 60 metres to score. Darragh added the difficult conversion for a 10-0 lead.
Enniscorthy had their chances to score with Daragh producing a try-saving tackle and from the re-cycled ball scrum-half Robbie Waters bundled the winger into touch when it should have been a score.
The second half started with a chance for Newbridge with Darragh skimming the post with a penalty attempt that went wide.
Waters again pulled off a try-saving tackle but from the lineout ball Enniscorthy won a penalty which went over for 10-3.
Minutes later Enniscorthy were awarded another penalty and when some dissent put it within kicking range Enniscorthy narrowed the gap to 10-6.
A third penalty came after a patient build-up as Enniscorthy attacked through their pack and they almost back on equal terms at 10-9 with about 14 minutes left to play.
But from the re-start Newbridge did their best to wrest momentum from Enniscorthy with back-row substitute Austin Cella now adding his impressive skills set to the mix.
Ronan Mangan chased the ball and got the catcher who was driven backwards for Newbridge to win possession and then a penalty with Darragh adding another three-pointer to his tally to make 13-9.
Newbridge again won possession from the re-start and more good work from the pack forced another penalty for Darragh to put Newbridge 16-9 ahead with five minutes left on the clock.
Enniscorthy’s outhalf Ivan Poole then carved through the Newbridge defence to bring play close to the Newbridge line. From a scrum, the inside centre found a gap in the midfield and was able to dot down close to the posts for Poole’s conversion to tie the game.
There was enough time left for Enniscorthy to work their way back into Newbridge territory but Poole’s drop-goal attempt went left and wide.
The first period of extra time started with Enniscorthy pressure which looked in vain when O’Hora intercepted but ended up isolated in the tackle and penalised for not releasing.
It was a long range chance but Enniscorthy’s Poole made no mistake to put his side 19-16 ahead.
Newbridge had one chance but winger Padraig Mahon was well-tracked by his opposite number who tackled him into touch.
Poole added another penalty not long after the re-start in the second half of extra time leaving Newbridge with just six minutes to chase a six-point gap.
From the re-start Cella showed his athleticism to win possession and give his side an attacking chance.
Newbridge battered forward but couldn’t find a way through and a quick-tapped penalty ended up giving away a penalty for Enniscorthy to kick the ball dead and claim the spoils.
Karl Darragh, Dave Hogan, Sean Kelly, Ben Swindlehurst, Padraig Mahon, Harry Murphy, Robbie Waters, Jonny Downey, Ronan Mangan, Darrell O’Hora, Colin O’Brien, Rory McCann, Grant Wattleworth, Niall Duggan, Dan Jennings. Subs: Denis Clarke, Gareth O’Reilly, Terry Donnell, Austin Cella, Denis O’Callaghan.