Hopes of promotion for Kilkenny from Division 2A in the Leinster League faded on Saturday when Roscrea walked away winning 13-11, with the points after pulling off one of the greatest upsets in recent times in Foulkstown.
A win for Kilkenny would have given them a chance at the play-offs. Questions were asked and eyebrows were raised about the amount of extra-time allowed (10 minutes) by the referee at the end of the game despite the fact that the ball had entered touch on two occasions in that 10 minute period.
Victory was not to be. Kilkenny must now look to the Provincial Towns Cup as news filtered through that Gorey had beaten Clondalkin 16-9 to win the right to face the Cats.
Kilkenny were the stronger and more composed team. Roscrea opened the scoring two minutes in when Kilkenny were penalised for not releasing the ball. From the restart, the home side quickly regained possession. Alan Pembroke drove hard at the line. He was tackled outside the 22 but the tackler was penalised for not rolling away. Denis Hogan made no mistake with his kick at goal and he levelled the score.
Broke up field
With 11 minutes gone the Roscrea centre made a break up the middle of the pitch, but was stopped in his tracks by Joey Manuel. The referee deemed the tackle was high. Manuel was sent to the sin-bin. Roscrea failed to convert the penalty.
Eight minutes later Kilkenny were penalised again and this time Roscrea took the lead. With Manuel back, the locals upped the pressure and in the 25th minute Roscrea were caught offside. Hogan levelled again.
The losers composed themselves and took on the opposition up front. The pressure paid off. On the stroke of half-time Manuel crashed over the line to give the home side a well-earned 11-6 lead going in to the break.
Despite Kilkenny’s hold on the game, Roscrea denied them scoring opportunities. Hogan did have a chance to increase the lead on 30 minutes but his attempt fell short. With 15 minutes played a Roscrea player was sent to the bin for throwing a punch and two minutes later another Roscrea player was sent to the bin for lashing out with the foot.
Kilkenny failed to capitalise on the numerical advantage. With 40 minutes played and little injury-time registered on the clock, it looked as if time had run out for Roscrea. The home side defended superbly and kept their opponents out of the try zone.
Did not give up
Roscrea did not give up. With 10 minutes of extra-time played they finally touched down in the corner and levelled the score. Roscrea added the conversion. Kilkenny’s hopes of a play-off spot vanished.
This was a huge loss for the Foulkstown squad, and the way it happened was a bitter pill to swallow. Roscrea were delighted, and with North Kildare and Malahide left to play, the play-off spot now looks certain to be theirs.
The result did not reflect the immense effort put in by all Kilkenny players, in particular, Brendan McIntyre, Ronan O’Donoghue and Alan Pembroke. Kilkenny can find solace in the fact that the players put in a huge effort, and were downright unlucky.
Kilkenny face Gorey away next in the Towns Cup second round on February 19 (3pm). This will be a tough contest and will surely test the strength of the Kilkenny team.
KRFC, in conjunction with club sponsor, Eamonn Langton, will show the France versus Ireland game in the Set Theatre on Saturday (8pm) on a big screen. Entry is €5 with complimentary finger food.0
Kilkenny Ists - Alan O’Donovan, Killian Everard, Philly Walsh, Joey Manuel, Alan Pembroke, Denis Hogan, Robby Walsh, Philly Ryan (C), Ray Pembroke, Ronan O’Donoghue, Brendan McIntyre, James Blanchfield, Mick Hannigan, Brian Nolan, Gavin McCarthy. Subs - Emmet Lynch, Eddie Brennan, Conor Bass, Julian Hughes, Ger Flood