KILKENNY were deserving winners in Carlow on Saturday, but the Cats were left hanging on in the end before they were assured of the Youths’ Leinster League points.
The visitors didn’t have the best of starts, conceding a penalty try after just four minutes, but in an improved performance Kilkenny hit back to take control of the game by half-time.
The importance of a kicker was highlighted as Sean Moran kicked three conversions out of three, scores which added to a well-taken try on his long awaited return to form, while also complementing fine half-back performances by Peter Hutchinson and Matthew McWey.
A good try by James Rafter, who sailed over the line and an opportunist one by McWey were a good response to the slow start made by the visitors. However, some improved second half discipline from Carlow meant Kilkenny got little or no easy penalties.
The game was nip and tuck throughout the second half, with neither side able to capitalise on their strengths - the line out and scrum had been successful for Kilkenny, while Carlow found joy through the swift handling of their backs.
Carlow came back strongly in the last 15 minutes, challenging a Kilkenny side who rode their luck at times. Colin Corcoran made a great tackle over his own line, which resulted in a Carlow knock on instead of a clear try.
Although Carlow finally scored with two minutes remaining it was too late to affect the outcome. Kilkenny finished the game, cleverly pinning Carlow to the touch line, but will miss the pace of McWey in their next encounter at home to the abrasive and fast improving Enniscorthy next Saturday (kick-off in Foulkstown is at 11.30am).
The back three were solid and effective counter-attackers throughout all of the second half, never taking their eyes off the ball while running strongly back at Carlow. If they can improve again in the pace of their game and realignment in defence they can look forward to an exciting finish to their league campaign.
Kilkenny: Will Bergin, Colin Corcoran, Cormac Connolly, Sean Moran, David Sutton, Peter Hutchinson, Matthew McWey, Danny Nolan, John Curtin, Nick Feehan, Cian Smith, James Rafter, Tom Cuddihy, Craig Murphy, Gary Dunne. Subs: Ciaran Sutton, Aaron Summers, Shaun Fitzgerald, Luke Rafter, John Downey.