Kilkenny welcomed Division 1A opponents, Enniscorthy to bitterly cold Foulkstown on Friday in the South East League, but they suffered a bad 34-3 loss, writes Padraic Treacy.
The losers’ hopes of a win by the required 45 points to advance to the latter stages of the competition were quickly dashed by well-drilled and stronger opponent.
Coach Ashmore used the opportunity to try out a number of prospective players for his ever improving First XV. The return of centres, Philly Walsh and Ger Flood, was welcomed by the home fans and Leon Madigan, Diarmaid Hickey and Darren Bawle all contributed well to the overall performance of the pack.
Kilkenny defended and attacked superbly during the opening 30 minutes and were unlucky on a few occasions not to cross the try-line. Enniscorthy opened the scoring in the 30th minute through the boot of their No.12. Six minutes later they scored a try, which was converted. With the half time scoreline reading 10-0 to the visitors, Kilkenny had a lot of catching up to do.
Enniscorthy burst out of the starting blocks in the second half. With seven minutes played, they scored their second converted try. Julian Hughes added Kilkenny’s only score of the game three minutes later, maintaining his near perfect kicking record for the season.
Enniscorthy took control. Kilkenny’s tough defence cracked and the visitors scored three tries in the closing 12 minutes to run out easy winners. Despite the score, this was a good performance from Kilkenny.
There were some good individual performances in particular from Leon Madigan and Diarmaid Hickey in the pack. Philly Walsh, playing at centre, made some strong runs and may have booked himself a regular spot on the team.
Kilkenny are back in Leinster League action on Sunday away to Malahide. A win here is vital if they are to have any hope of securing that promotion place to Division 1. Kick off in Malahide is 2.30pm.
Kilkenny Firsts - Alan O’Donovan, Shane Raferty, Philly Walsh, Clive Grehan, Ger Flood, Julian Hughes, Clive Kavanagh , Willie Duggan, Ger Costello, Leon Madigan, Ray Pembroke, Diarmaid Hickey, Eddie Brennan, Martin Leahy, Darren Bawle. Subs - Simon O’Shea, James Blanchfield, Emmet Lynch, Ronan O’Donoghue, Victor Harper.
Kilkenny 2nds 8pts
Enniscorthy were denied a victory on Sunday in this South East League clash in Foulkstown when Kilkenny pulled off one of the greatest steals of all time by beating their opponents by a single point, scoring in the dying minutes of the game.
The game was played in atrocious conditions, and was stopped for nearly 30 minutes in the first half following an injury to winger Mick Meany, who sadly broke a leg in a tackle. As the rain poured down and the ambulance crew tended to the injured Meany, the game resumed with players from both sides continuing rather nervously. The first half ended scoreless.
Kilkenny opened the scoring on 51 minutes with a fine kick from out-half, Gerry Callanan, who read the crosswind perfectly. The heavy and greasy ball denied Kilkenny a few chances at tries. The locals were without doubt the more inventive and attacking team.
The game continued with neither side conceding an inch until the 63rd minute when Enniscorthy broke through the home defence and touched down under the posts. The try was converted.
Kilkenny hearts sank, but spurred on by coach Nigel Daly, they bounced back. In the 79th minute, sheer tenacity paid dividends as full-back, Alan O’Donovan expertly avoided going into touch and slid into the corner to score the game-stealing try. Callanan’s conversion attempt was close but the ball drifted wide.
The dreadful weather denied the spectators any chance of a free-flowing game.
However, a number of players did delight, namely Leon Madigan, whose tackling was exemplary. Ronan O’Donoghue’s strength and experience made a huge difference to the forwards on his introduction in the second half and the front row pairing of Martin Leahy and Eddie Brennan worked tirelessly in the loose.
The team members and supporters wished the injured Mick Meany a speedy recovery and they look forward to him pulling on the Kilkenny jersey in the near future.
Kilkenny Seconds are also in Leinster League action on Sunday. They take on Malahide. Kick off in Malahide is at 1pm.
Kilkenny Seconds - Alan O’Donovan, Mick Meany, Ger Flood, Vinnie O’Shea, Shane Raftery, Gerry Callanan, Richard Harper, Ray Pembroke, Leon Madigan, James Blanchfield, Simon O’Shea, Emmet Carey, Darren Bawle, Emmet Lynch, Wayne Kavanagh. Subs - Eddie Brennan, Martin Leahy, Ronan O’Donoghue, Tom Massey, Victor Harper, Kieran Ormonde.
Players awards night
Following the game against Enniscorthy on Friday night, the Firsts and Seconds Player of the Year Awards for the 2011/2012 season were held in the clubhouse.
Club President, John Kenna, welcomed the large gathering, in particular the family of the late George Williams and relayed apologies from the Mahony family who were, unfortunately, unable to attend.
The George Williams Award for the Firsts’ Player of the Year was presented to former club captain, Philip Ryan, while Leon Madigan picked up the Philip Mahony Award for best Seconds player. Both awards were presented by Louise Williams, wife of the late George Williams.
Kilkenny Rugby Club conveyed a special thank you to Michelle and Orla Henebry for supplying the wonderful finger food on the evening, and to Trish Devlin for supplying the after match soup and sandwiches.