Kilkenny’s hopes of Towns Cup glory were dashed on Sunday when they fell against mighty Tullow, losing 16-36, writes Padraic Treacy.
The grounds at Black Gates were packed to capacity with fans making a great effort to support their teams.
Tullow were on a high after winning the Leinster League the previous week and gaining promotion to Division 1A, and they powered into the opposition.
Kilkenny, currently top of Division 2A, were also confident but they just couldn’t cope with a well balanced and driven outfit.
The visitors started well and fought hard.
After five minutes Tullow were handed the opportunity to open the scoring when Kilkenny were penalised just inside the half way line.
The Tullow kicker made no mistake and the crowd roared with joy as the ball sailed between the posts.
Kilkenny were not fazed. From the restart they forced an error and Willie Wright quietened the huge Tullow following with a beautiful 25 metre kick at the posts.
Four minutes later Kilkenny were penalised, but this time the Tullow attempt was wide.
Lapse in concentration
The game losers seemed to be getting on top, but a momentary lapse in concentration allowed their opponents to sneak through for a converted try on 16 minutes.
Kilkenny replied through the boot of Wright, and a further attempt was missed in the 33rd minute, leaving the half time score at 10-6 to the hosts.
Kilkenny regrouped during the break and started the second half with great enthusiasm.
However, with just 46 seconds elapsed they suffered a huge setback when the Tullow winger sailed over in the corner for a try.
The conversion attempt rebounded off the post.
Following the restart Kilkenny forced an error.
Wright lined up to take the kick and on his approach to the ball it was blown over by the wind.
The referee allowed him to reset, but he was given little time. His attempt went wide.
The Tullow machine was rolling at this stage.
Following the restart they gathered the ball and broke through the Kilkenny defence.
They scored near the posts, adding the conversion.
Kilkenny did not wilt.
The forwards took charge and drove for the line.
Mighty tight head prop, Wayne Kavanagh took possession and crashed over the line on 52 minutes. Wright was just off target with the conversion attempt.
It was stalemate during the following 15 minutes as the teams hammered each other. Tullow won the battle, scoring two converted tries in the 65th and 68th minutes.
Kilkenny did not give up and winger Alan Pembroke crossed the line six minutes from the end for a late consolation try.
This was a valiant effort form Kilkenny, who were beaten by a well-tuned Tullow squad who are aided in their training by Leinster and Ireland hero, Sean O’Brien. Tullow reached the final over the last two years but were beaten. Despite the heavy defeat Kilkenny can be very proud of their performance, which should stand to them for their remaining Leinster League games.
Best for Kilkenny were Wayne Kavanagh and Willie Duggan for their sheer bravery throughout.Kilkenny have time to recover and regroup for their upcoming Leinster League clash away to Roscrea on March 3.
A decision on whether to compete in the Towns Plate will be made by team management during the week.
Kilkenny Firsts - Robby Walsh, Alan Pembroke, Philly Walsh, Joey Manuel, Rod Hogan, Willie Wright, Clive Kavanagh, Willie Duggan, Philly Ryan, Diarmaid Hickey, Victor Ryan, Gerry Clarke, Simon O’Shea, Martin Leahy, Wayne Kavanagh. Subs - Eddie Brennan, Tom Massey, John Phelan, Mark Coughlan, Ben O’Connor.