KILKENNY will be chasing a second victory and place in the final when they have their second outing in the British junior football championship on Saturday.
The Cats are flying to Birmingham to face Lancashire, the champions of the past two seasons, and if they can clock up another victory they could qualify for the final. The winners of the British championship gain entry to the All-Ireland junior championship proper.
The Noresiders scored a hard earned and morale boosting 2-14 to 0-6 win over Hertfordshire on Saturday in Sundon Park, Luton.
“We were delighted with the effort and win,” insisted team manager, Christy Walsh (Bennettsbridge), the former Munster hurler and footballer. “The win will give us the encouragement to drive on.
“The lads played some good football and got some great scores, which were the result of good combination play. That was the most pleasing aspect of all.”
Kilkenny got off to a flying start. An early goal from Graham Lawlor and point from Stephen Duggan helped them settle. That pair were the top scorers, shooting 1-5 and 0-6 respectively.
At half-time the winners led by 1-6 to 0-5, but Hertfordshire had pressed hard and failed to gain any reward from a penalty. It was touch and go for long spells during the closing half until the winners shot a flurry of points and with a few minutes remaining Graham Lawlor grabbed the second goal.
“This was a good boost for Kilkenny football,” insisted Kilkenny Football Board chairman, Tom Brennan (Railyard). “We won’t be getting carried away, but the players have to be congratulated on putting in a great effort.
“I have to say I felt proud. They did what was asked of them. A win will make life that bit easier for us.”
Kilkenny opted out of the National League because they were out of their depth and they suffered one hammering after another.
With GAA President Liam O’Neill very much involved, they were accommodated in the British competition so as to make sure they enjoyed some form of inter-county involvement.
“This is the level at which we should be involved,” Mr Brennan felt. “One win doesn’t guarantee anything, but at least the boost in confidence won’t do the players any harm.”
“This weekend’s game will be a step up in class,” Mr Walsh said. “The mood is good. Let’s enjoy this result for the moment, and see where things go from here.”
Getting to the match on time wasn’t without its complications, however. The Cats travelled by bus to Rosslare, but the ferry crossing was delayed for four hours which threw out their schedule.
The hope was that they would reach their Watford base around 6am on Saturday, which would give the players the chance to grab a bit of rest. They eventually got there at 10am, and they got some shut eye before the match which had a 5pm throw-in.
This weekend the near 40-strong party will fly to Birmingham, so there should be less complications and the time commitment for the players should be less.
Members of the Kilkenny GAA Supporters Club in London, headed by chief office Pat Byrne, travelled to Sundon Park for the match and treated the travelling party to dinner afterwards.
Later the group were guests of St Joseph’s GAA club in Luton, where they were treated royally, with Freshford woman Lucy Hickey helping to look after their every need.
Kilkenny team – J.J. O’Sullivan (St Patrick’s); J.J. Grace (Grange, Kildare), Bob Aylward (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Noel Darcy (Muckalee); Paddy Nolan (Muckalee), Mark Aylward (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Declan Grennan (Tullogher-Rosbercon); Joe Maher (Muckalee), David Lyng (Rower-Inistioge); James Phelan (Fenians), Ger Purcell (Windgap), Pat Kinsella (Mooncoin); Stephen Duggan (Mullinavat), Graham Lawlor (Railyard), Brian Egan (Dicksboro).
Subs used – John Mulhall (Muckalee), Fionn Lawlor (Muckalee), Kevin Byrne (O’Loughlin/Gaels); other subs – David Garvey (Glenmore), Stephen Murphy (Erin’s Own), Mark Roussman (Dicksboro), Michael Seoighe (Dicksboro), Darren O’Meara (Paulstown), George Smith (Danesfort).