The autumn sunshine brought a huge crowd to the Open Day in Kilkenny Rugby Club on Saturday and they were treated to a feast of rugby provided by the mini, youths and senior sections, writes Padraic Treacy.
The minis entertained the crowd in the run up to the senior sides Leinster League opening matches against Malahide. The game of rugby itself was indeed the winner on the day and it was a joy to witness the stars of the future produce some fast flowing and superb rugby. The minis (and some of the adults) were treated to a bouncy castle and a well-deserved supply of food and drinks from the barbecue.
The minis accompanied both senior teams onto the pitch for the kick-off of this eagerly awaited Leinster League tie. With the minis also providing the water carrying duties for their senior heroes, Kilkenny Firsts kicked off and piled on the pressure from the start, eventually beating Malahide 19-12.
Six minutes in Julian Hughes opened the scoring for Kilkenny with a fine penalty kick following an offside infringement in the Malahide 22.
Hughes was called on again five minutes later to add a further three points when the visitors were again caught offside in practically the same position. With a six point lead, Kilkenny looked comfortable and the forwards took on a bigger role. Prop Eddie Brennan repeatedly took on the Malahide defence with driving runs and supported by his teammates it was only a matter of time before the Malahide defence would crumble. Kilkenny were awarded a scrum on the Malahide five-metre line.
With the scrum roaring forwards, No.8 Philly Ryan picked the ball from the back of the scrum and offloaded to his flanker Willie Duggan who drove for the line. Scrumhalf Clive Kavanagh popped the ball to Eddie Brannan who again dived for the line. Malahide stopped him in his tracks and Kavanagh flipped the ball wide. Malahide raced across to cover and just managed to stop Alan Pembroke from touching down, however, the ball was reproduced quickly and Duggan crashed over the line with the aid of his fellow forwards.
Hughes added the conversion and Malahide heads began to dip. Kilkenny kept up the pressure and with 5 minutes left on the clock Malahide were again penalised giving Hughes the opportunity to stretch the lead by a further three points.
The half time whistle blew and Kilkenny soaked up the 16 – 0 half time advantage.
Malahide came out in the second half with new vigour but Kilkenny were not having any of it. With ten minutes gone Hughes stretched the lead to 19 points following a superb kick from about 40 meters out. Kilkenny eased up on the accelerator and at this moment they lost their formidable No.8, Philly Ryan through suspected concussion causing them to slightly lose their momentum.
Malahide capitalised on this and Kilkenny soon found themselves on the back foot. 20 minutes into the half, Kilkenny were caught napping and the visitors drove over the line to score an unconverted try. Malahide were not to be stopped and minutes later they touched down again and with the conversion attempt bang on target they narrowed the gap further.
Kilkenny woke up and defended for the remainder of the game. Malahide looked like scoring on a number of occasions but thanks to the defensive power of the entire Kilkenny squad, they managed to hold out until the final whistle.
Eddie Brennan and Alan McIntyre were without doubt the masters, and apart from the usual brilliant display from Duggan, the whole Kilkenny team put in a solid performance. Malahide did manage to secure a bonus point however which it is hoped will not be detrimental to the Kilkenny effort come end of season.
Kilkenny are away to Gorey in the Leinster League on Saturday. They will be looking to avenge the defeat suffered at the hands of Gorey two weeks ago in the South East League. Kilkenny will hopefully be at full strength for this tie and a win is expected. Kick off in Gorey is 8pm.
Kilkenny Rugby Club extended congratulations to the victorious Kilkenny hurling team on their fabulous win in the All-Ireland final on Sunday. All are looking forward to welcoming the Liam MacCarthy Cup to Foulkstown in the coming weeks. This event will hopefully be coupled with a visit by the Heineken Cup, together with members of the victorious Leinster squad, demonstrating the close ties between rugby and hurling in the city and county.
Kilkenny Firsts - Clive Grehan, Alan O’Donovan, Julian Hughes, Alan Pembroke, Killian Everard, Stephen Brennan, Clive Kavanagh, Philly Ryan, Willie Duggan, Ray Pembroke, Gerry Clarke, Victor Ryan, Eddie Brennan, Tom Massey, Wayne Kavanagh. Subs - Simon O’Shea, Martin Leahy, Alan McIntyre, Kevin O’Toole, Victor Harper.
Kilkenny Seconds were not as lucky as the Firsts in this Leinster League clash in Foulkstown on Saturday. Although Kilkenny played the better and more inventive rugby in the opening stages of the game, they did not manage to turn this advantage into scores and eventually paid heavily indeed.
Despite a try from big second row Eamon O’Mahony in the first half and one from flanker Alan McIntyre in the second half, which was duly converted by Barry Daly, Kilkenny never got to grips with this game and handed too much possession to their slightly older and more experienced opposition. Malahide capitalised on this advantage and ran away with the game, mounting up the scores in the final 20 minutes of the game. Kilkenny were out on their feet and could only do their best to defend for this period.
Kilkenny have a week to regroup and as they eagerly await the return of a number of key players, they will be looking to get back on track against Gorey on Saturday. Kick off in Gorey 6pm.
Kilkenny Seconds - Vinnie O’Shea, Cian O’Mahony, Barry Daly, Kevin O’Toole, Richard Harper, Richie Devane, Victor Harper, Ger Costello, Alan McIntyre, Emmet Carey, Eamon O’Mahony, Paddy Walsh, Mick Hannigan, Emmet Lynch, Brian Howe. Subs - Simon O’Shea, Leon Madigan, Sean Meany, Mick Meany, Victor Harper.