|J1: Leinster League, Sunday 8/1/12
by Padraic Treacy
Kilkenny Firsts travelled to Malahide on Sunday and walked away victors in what proved to be a most thrilling encounter. Malahide Rugby Club, overlooking the Irish Sea, provided a very picturesque setting for this Leinster League clash. This fabulous win was not to be the only shock of the day as the results from the other league clashes came flooding in. Fifth placed New Ross pulled off the biggest upset of the day when they beat league leaders Roscrea 10 – 3 who have now slipped back to second place, while Portarlington regained the first place position when they picked up full points against West Offaly Lions who could not field a team.
This throws the competition for first place wide open and with Kilkenny managing to hold on to their third place berth, they are now in a very good position to win the league with both Roscrea and Portarlington still to play in Foulkstown. Seven points are now between themselves and Portarlington while only four points separate them from Roscrea.
Malahide opened the scoring on 9 minutes when they crossed the Kilkenny line to score an unconverted try. Kilkenny hit back and soon had the home-side on the back-foot. It took the visitors nearly a half an hour however to add their names to the score board when Denis Hogan kicked a fine penalty from about 30 metres out. From the restart, Kilkenny again took control and with the half-time whistle looming the forwards charged over the line with loose-head prop Wayne Kavanagh claiming the touch down just left of the posts. Hogan added the points and Kilkenny went into the break, deservedly, 10 - 5 in front.
Malahide kicked off the second half but a Kilkenny forward knocked the ball on in his attempt to gather the ball, giving possession back to the hosts. From this Malahide set up camp in the Kilkenny 22 and battered the Kilkenny defensive lines repeatedly. Kilkenny could only hold out for so long and with 10 minutes gone on the clock, Malahide touched down in the corner with their kicker adding the conversion. The game to-ed and fro-ed from here on in and it wasn’t until the 30 th minute that either side were given the chance to add points.
Kilkenny were caught offside and the Malahide kicker attempted a 40 metre kick which fell well short of the target. Five minutes later they were handed another opportunity and this time the Malahide kicker was on target giving the home-side a five point lead.
With only minutes left on the clock, Kilkenny lifted their game and Denis Hogan kicked Kilkenny deep into the Malahide half. Kilkenny were not going to leave without a point and the forwards hammered their counterparts with strong runs and intelligent phased play. Their efforts paid off when captain, Philly Ryan dived for the line to level the scores. It was now down to Hogan to add the conversion and steal the game from their opponents. A very poised, Hogan struck the ball and with all eyes focussed on its direction, Kilkenny’s hearts were lifted as the ball sailed between the posts securing the victory for the visitors.
This was an outstanding performance from the whole team with each member displaying great courage and determination. Philly Ryan was without doubt the best player on the day and his captaining skills again shining to the fore. He was closely followed by centre, Alan Pembroke who showed great strength in defence and flanker, Alan McIntyre who worked tirelessly throughout. A special thanks to all Kilkenny supporters who travelled to Malahide on Sunday to support the team.
Kilkenny are away to North Kildare on Sunday. This should prove to be a tough contest as Kildare are fighting relegation. Kick off in The Maws, Kilcock is at 2.30pm.
Kilkenny: Alan O’Donovan, Alan Pembroke, Philly Walsh, Joe Manuel, Denis Hogan, Robby Walsh, Philly Ryan (C), Alan McIntyre, Lee Wilson, Ray Pembroke, Gerry Clarke, Mick Hannigan, Brian Hanrahan, Wayne Kavanagh.
Subs: Brian Nolan, James Blanchfield, Emmet Lynch, Killian Everard, Gerry Callinan.