Kilkenny Firsts went looking for revenge on Sunday in Sydney Parade, Dublin against Monkstown in the Leinster Rugby Leaguye but they came off second best and lost 14-13, writes Padraic Treacy.
In the last outing between the teams in September Kilkenny were beaten 26-29 after putting in a battling performance.
The Foulkstown squad has been constantly improving. Despite trailing 8-3 at the break, the visitors battled back and were in with a chance to the finish. Kilkenny played some beautiful rugby in the opening half and attacked at every opportunity.
However, a combination of strong defending by Monkstown and handling errors scuppered their chances of turning a huge amount of possession into scores. Monkstown scored a try and a penalty while Kilkenny scrum-half, Willie Wright, kicked a penalty just on half time.
The second half was more keenly contested. Both sides attacked and defended their lines superbly. With almost an hour played, the first score of the half fell to the home team. This penalty gave them an eight point lead.
Kilkenny changed gear and upped the ante, applying extreme pressure on the home defence. Cracks started to appear. Denis Hogan, who was solid at full-back, lent support to Podge Mahon who off-loaded superbly to his full-back against two defenders. The former dived over the line in the corner. Kilkenny spirits soared, especially when Wright split the sticks with a gigantic kick from the touchline.
Kilkenny were back in the game. With the final whistle looming, Monkstown were penalised for not releasing the ball in the tackle. Wright pointed at the posts. Silence descended. A huge cry erupted from the Kilkenny fans as the ball sailed gracefully between the posts. Kilkenny were in front.
The closing action was reminiscent of a recent friendly international played down the road in the Aviva Stadium. Kilkenny just had to hang on to the two point lead for minutes.
Monkstown stormed at the visitors. They won a lineout. As the clock ticked down Kilkenny were penalised for collapsing a maul. Monkstown decided to have a shot at goal. The ball went wide. Kilkenny were saved, or so they thought.
With 80 minutes including stoppage time elapsed the referee found a spare four minute to play. Kilkenny were penalised again. On this occasion the Monkstown kicker made no mistake. Kilkenny were beaten by a point.
The referee’s decision making and time keeping were seriously questioned afterwards. The sad fact was that Kilkenny lost when they should have won. The performance and work rate by all has to be commended, in particular young out-half, Sean Moran, No. 8 David O’Connor and flanker Lee Wilson, whose individual tackle counts were off the scale.
This is a fabulous and exciting team that is continuously improving and delighting fans. However, Kilkenny’s chances of lifting the Division 1B title appear to be slowly evaporating. They will now concentrate on finishing the league in the top three by beating Malahide on Sunday (2pm) in Foulkstown.
With the South East Cup final to play on December 28 against Enniscorthy and the Provincial Towns Cup coming up in the New Year, the chances of winning silverware is very much alive.
Kilkenny Firsts - Denis Hogan, Podge Mahon, Conor Phelan, Philly Walsh, Killian Everard, Sean Moran, Willie Wright, David O’Connor, Lee Wilson, Darragh Farragher, Ray Pembroke, Victor Ryan, Eddie Brennan, Martin Leahy, Hugh O’Brien. Subs - Sean Moran, Ronan O’Donoghue, Peter Rodgers, Tom Massey, Kevin O’Toole.
An understrength Kilkenny Seconds also travelled to Monkstown on Sunday but they lost a chance to secure points. The late arrival of key players, who lost their way to the venue, was a huge blow.
Despite great performances from Ronan O’Donoghue, Darragh Morrissey and Tom Massey, Kilkenny could do little to prevent the home side from running riot, winning 50-10. Kilkenny will have to wait until the New Year to try and make amends. They play Tullamore on January 5.
On a more positive note, Kilkenny Thirds chalked up another victory. They beat Clondalkin 58-20 on Saturday after beaing The Normans the previous week. They have secured pole position in the league table.
Kilkenny can look forward to a well-earned Christmas break. Their next game on January 11 is against the Royal College of Surgeons.
Finally, the Kilkenny women’s team secured a vital win against Athy on Sunday in Foulkstown. They won 22-10, thus keeping their league hopes alive. Kilkenny are away to Wexford Wanderers on Sunday (1pm).
Paulstown boxing club will hold their 41st annual tournament in Paulstown community centre on Sunday (2 30pm).
A host of top boxers, including the three newly crowned Irish intermediate champions, will be in action - Irish boys champions, Shane Flavin and Jamie Cullen; Leinsters champions James Drennan and Peter Keenan and Irish elete champion, Hannah Carthy.
Boxers from the Marble City, Callan, Thurles, Waterford, Wexford and Limerick clubs will join in the action.
Currently the Paulstown club are building an extension to their boxing gym, which will be kitted out to best possible standard. A big fund-raising effort is underway. All help appreciated.