Kilfeacle and District 1st XV 20 Enniskillen 1st XV 25

Enniskillen secured their first ever All-Ireland Junior Cup semi-final last weekend in wet and windy conditions as they travelled to County Tipperary and faced Kilfeacle and District RFC, former winners of the silverware.

Kilfeacle are known to be a physical side but Skins stepped up their physicality to see off a late surge from the home side after playing some excellent rugby throughout.

Two tries from Niall Keenan and one from Mark O’Shea along with points from the boot of Eddie Keys sealed the result in a tense 20-25 final score.

Enniskillen Head Coach Stevie Welsh was delighted with his side’s response to a disappointing defeat to Cooke seven days earlier.

“The fact that we scored in the first 90 seconds showed that the boys were keen to right a few wrongs.

“The first 10 or 15 minutes, I hadn’t seen a more physical game but the boys stepped up and we were very pleased with the reaction we got.

“It wasn’t a pretty game, but the boys kept at it and we looked the better team. It was tense towards the end, but we saw it out,” said Welsh, who was pleased to secure a first ever semi-final place in the competition.

“It is massive to have made it through to a first All Ireland Junior semi-final, and to have that game at home is great. It is fixed for the Saturday before Christmas, which is always a big day at the club and this will just add to it,” he said.

Skins got on the scoreboard early after claiming a penalty which allowed them to set up a lineout on the five-metre line, battering their way over with the maul for Keenan to touch down, 0-5.

Kilfeacle responded showing their physicality and a strong blitz defence to pressure the Skins attack and eventually gained some possession.

A kick at goal brought them back within range.

The set-piece struggled as conditions worsened, but the attacking ability with ball in hand of Enniskillen was exceptional.

Strong carries from Rutledge, Carleton and Rooney in the forwards along hard runs from O’Shea at fullback kept the territory in Skins’ favour.

Another score came for Skins as they set up camp deep in Kilfeacle’s half with Keenan crossing again after a string of forward carries.

A score came for the home side before the end of the half, however, and mounting penalties had them leading 13-12.

The second half was an arm wrestle from the beginning and required a huge effort from Skins. The front row of Warrington, Keenan and Graham had a real battle up front against a big front row, and claimed some important penalties.

A shot at goal from Eddie Keys put Skins back in the lead at 13-15, and shortly afterwards after an extended period pressuring the line, Eddie Keys floated the ball wide to Mark O’Shea for a third try to lead 13-22.

Another penalty shortly afterwards had Skins with a comfortable 13-25 lead with 15 minutes on the clock.

As the conditions worsened, Skins suffered some handling errors and allowed Kilfeacle back into the game as they kicked cleverly in behind, coming away with a converted try to set up a very tense last stand in the final five minutes with the score 20-25.

Kilfeacle set up camp on the Skins line, but some heroic defence saw off the onslaught to finish with the victory.

It was a big performance from Enniskillen who stepped up their game against a physical and more experienced side, showing plenty of grit in the process.

Skins will have to continue to improve their accuracy, however, as they still came away with nothing in the red zone on occasion, and possibly left another couple of scores on the pitch.

Skins have confirmed an AIL Junior Cup home semi-final against Dublin-based Monkstown set for December 17, but they quickly turn their attention to visiting Armagh 2nd XV this Saturday in an imposing first Towns’ Cup fixture.

“We have some big games before that semi-final, starting with the Towns’ Cup game against Armagh this Saturday.

“It is a competition we like, but we know it is going to be tough. We then have big games against Ballyclare and Cooke in the league, and we want to pick up points,” added Welsh.