Kilkenny 24 Garda 18
This was a victory Kilkenny badly needed and after 80 plus minutes they had achieved their target. It was a hard earned victory and those are the ones that mean most. When the sides met earlier in the Leinster League it was the Garda who got the result against the run of play.
Last Sunday in Foulkstown Kilkenny were the better side but could quite easily have allowed the game slip away from them. However you have to give the team praise for the manner they achieved the victory in the end. At half time they trailed by 11 points to 7 and they looked a little preturbed.
A brillant try by John Phelan was canceled out by a similar effort from Killian Mullin and Garda had an excellent kicker in Paddy O Toole who added the points. Kilkenny had to contend with having to play for a period in the first half with 14 men when a forward was sin binned. Strange but it was then Kilkenny played their best rugby.
Then came the second half and the real battle began. Out half Julian Hughes narrowed the gap with a penalty in the 10th minute. Kilkenny introduced Philip Ryan returning from injury into the second row to play alongside his brother Victor and the tempo was upped.
A break by Max Vidella in the 22nd minute and helped along by John Phelan was halted momentarily. The drop off was caught by Victor Ryan and with possession in place Kilkenny sensed an opportunity. The move was carried on by Julian Hughes and Alan Pembroke before John Phelan once again arrived to take control and force his way over for a try converted by Hughes.
Kilkenny were now ahead by 17 points to 11 and looking good for the league points. They were to be rocked when Paddy O'Toole was given too much space to score a converted try with just 7 minutes remaining. Now the real battle began and the cold air around Foulkstown was heated as Kilkenny searched for a flaw in the Garda defence. With time running out a break by Julian Hughes, Alan Pembroke and Killian Everard was eventually halted by Garda and cleared.
A lineout was won cleanly by the mighty frame of Victor Ryan and passed out along the line. Kilkenny were definite in their plan to find Killian Everard whose pace was a real threat to the Garda defence. The full back came into the line at pace and when presented with the ball he was unstoppable running behind the posts to score a try and give out-half Julian Hughes the simple task of adding the points.
Once again Kilkenny were in front and heading for victory but once again the visitors fought back. When the final whistle was blown by referee Noel Brannigan it was Garda who were attacking but it was Kilkenny who were standing firm and holding on to the valuable league points.
How did Kilkenny achieve this victory and have to work so hard for it. Reports on games generally hide the true facts and no more so than in rugby. From the report above you will find a few names which were involved in the games scores.The real work done by the pack is often overlooked.
Take last Sunday and the performance of the front row. Both props Wayne Kavanagh and Max Vidella were superb. Kavanagh is the most improved performer this season with each display improving on the prevoius one. His scrumaging and ball retention in the loose making a big contribution. On the other side of the scrum is Max Vidella from the other side of the world in Argentina. His work rate and driving force lifts the players around him.
In between is James Cody and nobody works harder. The towering frame of Victor Ryan and the athletic frame of James Blanchfield gives the side many options in the lineout and in general play. Open side Alan McIntyre is a tireless worker and John Phelan gives plenty of pace and power.
Then we come to Liam Phelan who has come through the youth academy. A player with great potential whose quiet disposition is lorded by his power house display on the pitch.
The seconds made it a good day for Kilkennt beating Garda by 39 points to nil with the scores coming from Owen Hennessy(2) Quenten Hearne Killian Brennan and Tom Massey with Barry Daly adding the points.
Kilkenny: W Kavanagh J Cody M Vidella V Ryan J Blanchfield L Phelan A McIntyre J Phelan N Daly J Hughes M O Grady CPhelan A Pembroke G Hayes K Everard Seconds M Hennigan B Nolan E Brennan B McIntyre J Corr G Clarke G Costelloe C Bass Q Hearne B Daly K Brennan J Manuel V O Shea T Massey O Hennessy D Matthews P McCorry J Dunne A O Donovan
JI New Ross A Sun 2pm
J2 New Ross A Sun 12.30pm
Sean O'Shea, 06 December 2009