THE KILKENNY Youths blew away the cobwebs and started their New Year in winning fashion.
The Cats travelled to Tullow on Saturday and provided a strong finish that saw them pick up their first South East League points of 2012.
Although comfortable winners in the end Kilkenny looked rusty at kick-off. Tullow took the game to their opponents and were well deserving of their half-time 5-0 lead. The Carlow side made little of their Division One status when their big pack got on the front foot from the start and took the game to a passive Kilkenny side.
The hosts grabbed a well-deserved try when their flying winger John Daly beat several Kilkenny tacklers to score in the corner. He nearly repeated the feat soon after, but a cover tackle from Matt McWey saved the Cats from conceding a second try.
Gradually Kilkenny got into their stride, but although they created several chances before half-time their attempts went astray as Tullow defended their line well.
Kilkenny went out in the second half in determined mood and straight from the kick off a triple tackle disposed a Tullow ball carrier. The ball was whipped out the line for Cormac Connolly to break the score in the corner which was expertly converted from the side line by Sean Moran in a welcome return to kicking form.
From there to the end Kilkenny upped their game considerably and dominated every phase as the Tullow boys, despite competing for every ball but unused to playing Premier Division sides, struggled to stay with the pace.
The Kilkenny pack started to dominate possession and was much quicker and aggressive in defence when Tullow did attack in this half. Kilkenny continued to drive at the home side as a unit with Nick Feehan leading the charge and Craig Murphy creating more space for the back line, who started to move the ball with confidence and run aggressively at the gain line.
The winners gradually turned possession into tries. Further scores followed from Connolly, Sean Moran, scrum half Matty McWey, Will Bergin and James Rafter, with Moran kicking four more conversions.
The team will be hoping to score another away win when they take on Carlow in Friday away (kick-off 7.15pm). Kilkenny will have to step up their performance level to get the better of a solid Carlow team who pushed them all the way in the Leinster League encounter. Victory also carries a bonus, as a win will give Kilkenny a home semi-final in March.
Kilkenny: Will Bergin, Luke Rafter, Sean Moran, Cormac Connolly, Colin Corcoran, Peter Hutchinson, Matthew McWey, Danny Nolan, John Curtin, Nick Feehan, Matthew Cassin, James Rafter, Craig Murphy, Conor Quinlan, Gary Dunne, Ciaran Martin, Shaun Fitzgerald.