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02 Oct 2022

Kilkenny take their first steps in Leinster hockey’s top flight

Muckross 4 Kilkenny 0

Kilkenny take their first steps in Leinster hockey’s top flight

Action from the Kilkenny ladies first team’s Leinster League game against Muckross, their first game in Division One of the Leinster League. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

The Kilkenny ladies hockey first squad took a historical step with their first step into Division One.

The Cats kickstarted their maiden top flight campaign in the Leinster League with a trip to Muckross on Saturday.

Having been promoted from Division Two last year, the squad were looking forward to the challenge of playing in the province’s top level for the first time in the club’s history.

The match began at a frantic pace from the get-go, with both sides keen to put their stamp on the game and get their season off to a winning start. Kilkenny forwards Sue Shirley, Paula Farrell and Sara Browne worked tirelessly up front as they applied pressure to the Muckross defence.

Despite being the newcomers in the league, Kilkenny moved the ball nicely from defence to attack and looked confident in possession. However, as the opening quarter drew to a close, Muckross won a short corner against the run of play and converted it through a back-post deflection to put them a goal ahead.

The home side continued to show their class in the second half and were ruthless in front of goal. Kilkenny defenders Niamh Spratt O’Shea, Ciara Clarke and Sarah Wilson battled ferociously as the Muckross attackers poured forward.

Pressure paid off for the hosts as the Dublin side slotted home two more goals through well-worked short corners to go in three goals to the good at half-time.

Having regrouped at the interval, there was a defiant look about Kilkenny as they took to the field for the restart.

With the team determined to raise their performance levels the hard work began with Kilkenny midfielders Linda Caulfield, Laura Walshe and Clair Phelan stringing a series of passes together, earning the black and amber side a short corner for their efforts. After a tussle for possession in the circle, the Muckross goalkeeper eventually cleared the ball off the line, much to the relief of her team-mates.

Kilkenny continued to pile the pressure on the Muckross defence in the final quarter with newcomer to the squad, Sass Thompson, sending many threatening balls towards goal.

As the game began to draw to end, Muckross flooded forward on the attack once again. Kilkenny goalkeeper Kate Freeman made two fine saves in quick concession but a skilful flick from the Muckross attacker saw them bag the fourth goal of the game.

Despite the scoreline, Kilkenny showed tremendous heart right up until the final whistle. The team can look forward to many more battles throughout the season.

Their next league game is at home to Dublin side Corinthians this Saturday. Tip-off is at 12 noon in Kilkenny College.

Kilkenny Firsts: Kate Freeman, Ciara Clarke, Niamh Spratt O’Shea, Emma Simmons, Clair Phelan (Captain), Sarah Wilson, Lynn Chadwick, Linda Caulfield, Lily Grace, Laura Walshe, Paula Farrell, Sass Thompson, Megan Sherwood, Sue Shirley, Sara Browne.

Coach: Gavin Bourke.

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