Leinster League 18/9/10
J1: Longford 16-12 Kilkenny
On a wet and windy Saturday afternoon at The Mall sports complex in Longford town, Kilkenny’s 1st XV met their Longford RFC counterparts in the first round of the Leinster League, Division 2. Longford were ultimate winners following a tough and bruising encounter. This was the third game for Kilkenny this season and it was important to begin the Leinster League with conviction and intent. Unfortunately Kilkenny left The Mall with just a single bonus point. Kilkenny need to finish in the top four of Division 2 or face, what amounts to, relegation in next season’s restructuring of the league.
Winning the toss Kilkenny elected to play into a strong wind for the first half. Outhalf Dave McMahon was to have difficulty in finding his range when kicking in these adverse conditions. This was to prove a major factor in deciding the end result. Kilkenny’s kick-off was gathered by Willie Duggan, who exemplified his side’s hunger and commitment for the task in hand. For the first fifteen minutes Kilkenny exerted great pressure on the Longford pack, but did not get their just rewards, the game remaining scoreless.
Kilkenny were then awarded the first penalty of the game which Dave McMahon put narrowly wide. Longford responded with a converted penalty on twenty two minutes. Longford grew into the game and on thirty minutes were awarded a second penalty which was duly converted by their outhalf. Longford led 6-0.
A key player at this stage was the Longford fullback who dismissing the wind advantage used his speed and athleticism to inflict serious damage on the Kilkenny defence. For Kilkenny, Willie Duggan, once more, stood out with excellent ball carrying and, yet again, a very high tackle count. Despite his efforts, Longford were to add to the score sheet following what appeared to be a knock-on from their fullback. He corrected his error by gathering the ball and combined with the right winger to run the length of the pitch to score beneath the posts, this was successfully converted. Kilkenny were to rue an earlier missed opportunity when some excellent and creative play from Killian Everard went awry, leaving the halftime score Longford 13-0 Kilkenny.
Kilkenny looked to use the wind in the second half and were rewarded with a penalty which went a begging. Front row substitute Nigel Daly, who replaced the injured Rob Kelly, was to be instrumental in galvanising the Kilkenny scrum, which has been under pressure earlier. This was to provide a platform for winger Mark Coughlan to score a try following a well-executed training ground move. Kilkenny now trailed by 8 points.
Kilkenny indiscipline was once again noticeable and was to prove their downfall as Longford converted another penalty on sixty five minutes. Longford were also guilty of indiscipline in their own 22, following concerted pressure from the Kilkenny pack, which saw a Nigel Daly try disallowed owing to an unsighted referee.
Kilkenny’s pressure continued, resulting in a converted penalty try. This was to be the final play of the game with a disappointing scoreline of 16-12 in favour of Longford.
The next fixture is home to Wexford on Sunday 26th September, in the Leinster League. Kick-off 3pm.
Wexford will not be fielding a J2 team.
Team: Wayne Kavanagh, James Coady, Rob Kelly, James Blanchfield, Gerry Clarke, Ger Costelloe, Tristram Dyer, Willie Duggan, Julian Hughes, Dave McMahon, Alan Pembroke, Lee Wilson, Killian Everard, Alan O’Donovan, Mark Coughlan.
Replacements: Nigel Daly, Colm Brady, Kevin Oates, Ben Dyer, Jamie Quane.