Kilkenny maintained their unbeaten run in the Leinster League when they played Roscrea on Sunday in Foulkstown, beating Roscrera 20-17.
The win has put ten points between these teams in the table. However, with Malahide and Gorey scoring wins too, the battle for promotion is definitely warming up at the top of Division 2.
This was a bruising contest between two old rivals, and the fare delighted fans. Kilkenny were the superior team but in true Roscrea spirit, the visitors would not surrender an inch of ground.
The visitors put their stamp on the game by opening the scoring seven minutes in, capitalising on a momentary lapse in concentration by the hosts. Roscrea’s inside centre crossed the line and touched down under the posts. His backline partner added the conversion.
Kilkenny began to take control. With the forwards providing clean, quick ball for the backs, they ran at the Roscrea defence and finally forced an error on 18 minutes. Roscrea were caught entering the ruck from the side. Willie Wright stepped up and opened Kilkenny’s account with a fine long range penalty kick.
The hosts increased the tempo from this moment on and on 24 minutes Wright again punished the visitors for their mistakes with another kick at goal.
The pack was well in gear and through the strength of props Wayne Kavanagh and Simon O’Shea they commanded the scrum. In the 28th minute Kilkenny were awarded a scrum on Roscrea’s five metre line.
Drove over line
They drove their opponents back over the line and No. 8, Philly Ryan dived on the ball and claimed the try.
Wright’s conversion attempt saw the ball bounce back into play off the post. He also missed another chance at goal 8 minutes later. However, on the stroke of half-time he put Kilkenny further in front with another 40 metre kick to leave the score 14-7.
The second half exchanges were tough. Wright continued his fine kicking form. He increased the lead by three points in the 43rd minute. Roscrea were quick to reply. In the 49th minute they crossed the try-line to narrow the deficit.
The savage beast
Roscrea unleashed the savage beast within, and six minutes later they crossed the line to level the score. The conversion attempt struck the post. Kilkenny breathed a sigh of relief.
The winners remained composed and they switched into defensive mode. They took the lead again on 61 minutes through the boot of Wright. They held out for the remaining quarter in what proved to be a nail-biting finish to a bruising contest.
Man of the match was giant second row, Gerry Clarke, whose experience and vision for the game helped pull his team mates through. This was a fabulous win and defensive performance from the Foulkstown squad. They proved they are the team to beat this season.
Kilkenny are away to bottom of the table New Ross on Sunday. Although they lost heavily to other teams in the last few weeks, New Ross are always ready to pull off a surprise. Kilkenny cannot be complacent. Kick off in New Ross is 2.30pm.
Kilkenny Firsts - Julian Hughes, Clive Grehan, Joey Manuel, Alan Pembroke, Killian Everard, Willie Wright, Clive Kavanagh, Philly Ryan, John Harper, Ray Pembroke, Gerry Clarke, Victor Ryan, Simon O’Shea, Martin Leahy, Wayne Kavanagh. Subs - Eddie Brennan, Tom Massey, Willie Duggan, Philly Walsh, Alan O’Donovan.
Kilkenny Seconds scored a valuable win against Roscrea on Sunday. The result leaves them nine points adrift of the leader board.
Despite leading 14-5 at half time it was a lacklustre first half performance from Kilkenny, whose ball skills and sheer determination left a lot to be desired. Centre Philly Walsh and hooker, Emmet Lynch crossed the line to score tries with out-half Gerry Callinan adding the conversions.
Roscrea scored on half time to leave the score 14-5 at the break.
Wake up call
Perhaps that late flourish by Roscrea was the wake-up call Kilkenny needed. They were a new team in the second half. Although they were unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions in the opening quarter, it took Kilkenny 30 minutes to get control when winger Rod Hogan crossed the line to increase the lead.
Hogan crossed the line twice after this in the 75th and 78th minutes to complete a hat-trick. Callinan added two conversion attempts. In fairness to Kilkenny, Roscrea never posed a massive threat but they did come close on a few occasions.
There were a number of positive things for the winners.
The introduction of Kilkenny’s Leinster flanker, Diarmuid Hickey was an awesome addition to the pack. This youngster is destined for glory. Kilkenny are lucky he will be in their colours this season.
Hickey shared the man of the match title with his fellow flanker, Leon Madigan, whose defensive work at the scrum was inspiring. Madigan is also a player that has come up from the youth section and has a bright future ahead.
The Seconds have a break on Sunday. Their next match is against Malahide on December 2.
Kilkenny Seconds - Alan O’Donovan, Shane Raftery, Kevin O’Toole, Philly Walsh, Rod Hogan, Gerry Callinan, Victor Harper, Willie Duggan, Ger Costello, Leon Madigan, James Blanchfield, Diarmuid Hickey, Brian Howe, Emmet Lynch, Darren Bawle. Subs - Eddie Brennan, Johnny Madden, Ronan O’Donohue, Richie Devane, Vinnie O’Shea.