Improving Kilkenny stay in play-off hunt

Kilkenny 39

Kilkenny 39

Enniscorthy 20

SIGNS of constant improvement were reinforced as the Kilkenny youths scored a convincing win over Enniscorthy in the Leinster League on Saturday.

Playing close to full strength, at a dry but breezy Foulkstown, Kilkenny were close to full strength as Paddy Mullan and Rikki Drennan played in tandem. The team made a great start as, after receiving the kick-off, they went straight into attack. Playing against the wind Drennan went over in the corner in the first minute after good handling by the back line.

Despite that try Enniscorthy settled into the game, kicking a good penalty after 11 minutes when they were unlucky not to grab a try. Kilkenny played some high quality rugby against the wind but their approach work was often undone by aimless kicking when in attack. They did, however, stretch their lead when an overthrow by hooker John Curtin was caught by prop Cian Smith who powered his way over to score a try.

That was converted by Sean Moran before Paddy Mullan crossed for the first of three tries, expertly joining from his blind side wing to put Kilkenny 17-3 in front with half-time approaching. Kilkenny looked certain to hold on to that advantage, but a defensive mix-up left Enniscorthy in for a try which cut the gap to seven at the interval (17-10).

Playing tactically astute rugby and using the wind well, Kilkenny spent most of the second half in attack. The lighter forwards led with a fine display of aggressive ball. The hosts were dominant in the scrum and general play, producing quick clean ball for scrum-half Ciaran Sutton and his replacement Luke Rafter, which led to four excellent tries for the backline.

With the floodgates opening, Paddy Mullan, Sean Moran and Cormac Connolly all touched down with Connolly and Mullan finishing some spectacular moves. When Enniscorthy did attack, clever kicking from Peter Hutchinson and Sean Moran helped Kilkenny clear their lines effectively. One such move led to another try for Mullan, who caught a clearance kick and finished with a flourish.

Enniscorthy enjoyed a brief revival at the end, scoring some late tries, but it wasn’t enough to reel in the winners. Kilkenny will be hoping to build on their best performance of the year when they play Wexford in their final game of the Leinster League on Saturday (kick-off 1pm). The away match against the unbeaten hosts is a must-win game for Kilkenny, who currently occupy the last of the play-off slots.

Kilkenny: Will Bergin, Paddy Mullan, Sean Moran, Cormac Connolly, Rikki Drennan, Ciaran Sutton, Peter Hutchinson, Cian Smith, John Curtin, Nick Feehan, James Rafter, Ciaran Martin, Craig Murphy, Tom Cuddihy, Gary Dunne. Subs: Luke Rafter, Danny Nolan, Aaron Somers, Colin Corcoran, Jack Drew, Robbie Hennessy, Shaun Fitzgerald, David Sutton.