Rugby by Padraic Treacy
With a possible Six Nations championship beckoning for Ireland and the retirement of one of rugby’s greatest exponents, Brian O’Driscoll, imminent, rugby is hot on the agenda everywhere at the moment.
It is the same in Kilkenny where no less than three of the the local club’s senior teams will be chasing Leinster cup and league honours during the coming weeks.
Kilkenny Firsts finished the Leinster league in a very comfortable fourth position, sharing that spot with Longford after a gruelling campaign.
Their final game against the league champions Ashbourne was a tough contest. As it was the final league game of the season, neither side gave an inch as they battled for the points.
Kilkenny performed excellently, but at times luck ran against them. Coach Steve Ashmore rested a number of key players in order to have them in top form for the upcoming Provincial Towns Cup quarter-final.
He expressed his gratitude to the members of the squad who stepped up in order to allow these key players take a well-earned rest. The final score was Kilkenny 21, Ashbourne 30.
With the League wrapped up and put to bed for the season, Kilkenny can now look forward to the upcoming Provincial Towns Cup quarter-final game against Newbridge in Foulkstown on Sunday. This is a do or die situation, a winner take all game.
With their minds now firmly fixed on bringing the cup back to Noreside in April, Kilkenny are determined to leave nothing to chance. Memories of the two bitter defeats against Malahide, and the closely contested outcomes of the games against Monkstown and Ashbourne can finally be wiped from memory as the squad continue their preparations for this vital knockout game.
Kilkenny have already seen off Longford in the first round (20-12) and Clondalkin (17-7) in the second round of the competition. The team is in with a really good chance of winning the title this year.
With eight teams left in the competition it is hard to say at this point who the favourite are, but Kilkenny are without doubt among the most feared of the remaining contenders.
Meanwhile, Kilkenny Seconds and Thirds are also doing the club proud.
The Seconds finished fourth in the league. They will also contest the Towns Cup, in this case on Sunday, March 23 when they welcome Gorey to Foulkstown.
The Thirds, under the leadership of Dave Matthews, are also be chasing Leinster honours when they take on Clondalkin in the league final on Saturday, March 22.
The Thirds have been going from strength to strength and with a little more improvement anything could happen. Prior to the final game there is the little matter of a local derby against The Normans from Ballyhale.
Kilkenny City is no stranger to foreign invaders, but this time round the invading Normans will make the short trip ‘into town’ to do battle with the local lads. This game is scheduled for Thursday (7.30pm).
All in all it has been a very positive season so far for the Kilkenny club. There is still a lot of rugby to be played. Kilkenny RFC have issued an invitation to members, young and old, and everyone to attend Foulkstown on Sunday to support the Firsts in their quest for glory and to soak up some of the St Patrick’s weekend atmosphere. Kick-off is at 3pm.