WHILE things might have been difficult on the road, the Kilkenny under-13 rugby team found that there really is no place like home when they beat Gorey 41-14 in the league.
Heavy losses away to Tullamore and Naas knocked the confidence of a young side playing in the Premier Group One division of the Leinster League, but the team got back to winning ways in the familiar surroundings of Foulkstown.
Opponents Gorey had suffered a similar fate to their hosts thus far in the season, meaning both were determined to kickstart their campaign. The two sides had met in the South East League earlier in the season with Kilkenny coming out on top and while Gorey were looking to even the score, the home side were in a confident mood.
Perfect conditions greeted the sides on a crisp, bright Saturday morning. Right from the kick-off Kilkenny moved the ball through the hands with Darragh Galway, employed in an unfamiliar midfield role, leading the charge.
Galway’s rampaging and direct running constantly broke the gain line and when he released the speedsters outside him panic ensued in the Wexford ranks. Within five minutes Oisin Morrissey scampered over the line for the opening try, Alex Hatt adding the extra points to give the hosts an ideal start.
Gorey tried to regroup but Kilkenny piled on the pressure. Captain Killian Egan kept them going, bursting from a maul for a trademark score before more tries followed from William Ashe Doyle and Jack Brennan. The Kilkenny backs enjoyed some high quality ball from their hard working pack, dominating the half as they went in 22-0 up at the break.
Although stunned Gorey had shown signs of getting back into the game, with their pack starting to get to grips with Kilkenny. The Wexford side started the second half strongly, keeping the ball tight, but handling errors cost them dear as they spurned some clear-cut chances.
Kilkenny found their gear again, with Cian McCormack driving over from a maul to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The hosts emptied the bench at this stage, with the fresh legs ensuring the side’s focus never dropped. Alex Hatt signed off on an impressive personal display and a welcome return to form with a well-taken try that he converted himself before Jack Brennan burst through the cover to grab his second and Kilkenny’s seventh.
To their credit, Gorey never quit. Determined to get on the scoreboard they drove forward from the restart, eventually piling over as fatigue began to tell on Kilkenny’s defence. They added a second try late on thanks to some fine close in play, but it was too little to affect the result.
It was a fine display from a rejuvenated Kilkenny side, who will go into a tough home game against Navan with a newfound spring in their step.
Kilkenny - Cian McCormack, Colm Kealy, Adam O’Brien, Darwish Bourke, Glen Gormley, Tadhg Butler, Ultan Conroy, Killian Egan, Jamie Dwan, Alex Hatt, Oisin Morrissey, Darragh Galway, Stephen Donnelly, William Ash-Doyle, Jack Brennan. Replacements: Seamus Farrell, Conor Rowe, Simon Walsh, Padraic O’Neill.