The draw for the opening round of this season’s Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup was made at the weekend – with the two Laois clubs both handed a tough assignment.
Portlaoise, who are currently top of Division 2A and firmly in the hunt for instant promotion, have been handed an away tie against Gorey who are currently second in the top tier Division 1A.
Portlaoise last reached the final of this competition in 2004 but they could scarecely have asked for a tougher draw this season. Gorey are second in their division to reigning Towns Cup champions Enniscorthy who have been handed a bye to Round 2 along with Ashbourne and Enniscorthy.
Elsewhere, Portarlington, who are struggling badly in Division 2B and on course for a second successive league relegation, have been handed an away game against neighbours Edenderry.
Edenderry are currently top of Division 2B, a whopping 37 points ahead of Port.
Athy, who are just two positions (but 22 points) up from Portarlington in Division 2B also have a tough draw at home to 1A side Dundalk, while Roscrea (also 2B) face the long trip to 2A side Wexford Wanderers.
Other games that draw the attention are the meeting of Carlow and Kilkenny while 2017 champions Tullow are at home to Mullingar.
Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup First Round
Wexford Wanderers RFC v Roscrea RFC
Gorey RFC v Portlaoise RFC
Tullow RFC v Mullingar RFC
Tullamore 2nd XV v Navan 2nd XV
Co Carlow FC v Kilkenny RFC
Longford RFC v Cill Dara RFC
Arklow RFC v Midlands Warriors RFC
Clondalkin RFC v Balbriggan RFC
Naas RFC v North Kildare RFC
New Ross RFC v Boyne RFC
Skerries 2nd XV v Newbridge RFC
Athy RFC v Dundalk RFC
Edenderry RFC v Portarlington RFC
Byes: Ashbourne RFC, Wicklow RFC, Enniscorthy RFC