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J1 South East League 29/8/10

Enniscorthy 28-11 Kilkenny

Kilkenny Firsts and Seconds travelled to Enniscorthy last Sunday (29/8/10) for the first round of the South East League and the first competitive fixture of the 2010/2011 season. They were expecting a tough encounter and that’s what transpired at the Ross Road grounds on a sunny and blustery day.

Kilkenny started well from the kick-off with excellent scrums, lineouts and defence and used a slight wind advantage to good effect. Kilkenny players imposed a high tackle count, especially Number 8 Willie Duggan and Vice-captain and hooker James Coady, in a fast moving first half. James’ front partners of Wayne Kavanagh and Eddie Brennan were dominant throughout, ensuring that the Enniscorthy pack were constantly on the back foot.

As always, this clash was going to be intense. Kilkenny’s recent record against Enniscorthy favours the Wexford outfit. Enniscorthy are current South East League champions beating Rathdrum 38-7 in last week’s delayed 2009/2010 final.

To be fair to Kilkenny it was their first outing of the season while Enniscorthy already had three previous pre-season fixtures, with other games against Dungarvan and Greystones. With another three games to come in this competition it’s all to play for with fixtures against Tullow, Arklow and Wexford to look forward to.

From the kick-off Kilkenny tackled the game head on. They were first on the score sheet after 15 minutes with a penalty converted by outhalf Dave McMahon, following an Enniscorthy offside from a ruck, 23 metres out on the right hand side. Kilkenny were to miss another penalty on 18 minutes.

Enniscorthy responded with a try coming from the pack on the 24th minute, the conversion attempt was wide. Kilkenny’s number 10, Dave McMahon used the wind advantage, kicked well to the corners with excellent chasing from wingers Alan O’Donovan and Mick O’Grady. Dave also converted another penalty in the 3rd minute of extra time, giving the Noresiders a one point lead with a half -time score of 6-5.

Kilkenny were to commence the second half without influential number 7 Alan McIntyre who, owing to injury, was replaced by Ray “Mental” Pembroke in the 33rd minute of the first half.

The second half opened with a penalty on 45 minutes from Enniscorthy outhalf Conor Poole. Poole was to convert yet another penalty on the 50 th minute. Kilkenny’s indiscipline saw then concede too many penalties, to allow Poole to increase his points tally. This indiscipline needs to be addressed.

Eight minutes later Enniscorthy crossed the Kilkenny tryline after some well worked phases, finished off by good handling from their backs. This was again converted by Poole. Another converted penalty to Enniscorthy on 62 minutes saw the game go away from Kilkenny, but to their credit they regrouped and scored a try by the formidable prop forward Wayne Kavanagh.

Further hard work by the First XV went unrewarded when Enniscorthy replied with a converted try on 71 minutes. The final 8 minutes belonged to Kilkenny, as they tried, in vain, to improve their scoreline.

Newcomers Robert Kelly, Gary Doyle, Lee Wilson and Ben Dyer acquitted themselves very well, with experienced players Willie Duggan, James Coady, Alan Pembroke and Killian Everard always to the fore.

Able replacement Ray Pembroke showed tenacity and power when called upon by coach Paddy McDonald. Kilkenny’s lineout ball was always secure in the safe hands of James Blanchfield, while at number 6 Ger Costelloe was exemplary in defence.

Coaching staff Paddy McDonald, Barry Daly and Lee Selmon while pleased with many aspects of the game know there is room for improvement, in particular some areas of defence and indiscipline need to be developed to reduce the conceded penalty count.

However, head coach Paddy McDonald took many positives from this first outing.

The next fixture is away to Tullow on Sunday 12 th September, in the South East League.

Kilkenny Rugby club wish all the Kilkenny hurlers the very best of luck in their All-Ireland finals next Sunday.

Wayne Kavanagh, James Coady, Eddie Brennan, Ben Dyer, James Blanchfield, Ger Costelloe, Alan McIntyre, Willie Duggan, Gary Doyle, Dave McMahon, Alan O’Donovan, Alan Pembroke, Lee Wilson, Mick O’Grady, Killian Everard.

Rob Kelly, Ray Pembroke, Brian Nolan, Mark Coughlan, Phillip Walsh

29th August 2010