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  J1: Leinster League, Sunday 10/3/13

Kilkenny                 49
New Ross                00                 
by Padraic Treacy

Cold, wet and windy weather conditions did not dampen the festival atmosphere in Foulkstown on Sunday as Kilkenny Firsts romped home to a fabulous 49 point win against New Ross to secure the Leinster League title for the first time in nearly eleven years. Adding to the celebrations were the regular updates from Gorey where second placed Malahide were not finding the going as easy and were trailing 12 -0 at half-time, eventually losing out 24 -11.

Kilkenny had only one thing in mind and that was victory at any price. It took them only 2 minutes to open the scoring when second-row giant, Victor Ryan, helped on by the pack, burst through the New Ross defence to score the first try of the game. Willie Wright kicked a solid conversion. From the restart Kilkenny were penalised and handed New Ross their only scoring chance of the game, however the kick went well wide of the posts.

Kilkenny cleaned up their act and refused to give their opponents another chance at scoring. In the seventh minute Alan Pembroke scored a superb try in the corner, his supreme strength bringing him over the line. Wright was again on hand to add the conversion. New Ross fought back briefly but they never looked like creating an upset and with 10 minutes left in the half, Philly Ryan touched down following a push-over try. Wright was again flawless leaving the half-time score 21 – 0.

Despite the odd flourish, New Ross were well and truly out of the game. Scrum-half Clive Kavanagh made sure of this in the 46th minute as he crashed over the line to secure the bonus point try with Wright spot on target with the conversion. With tries from centre, Conor Phelan in the 58th minute, prop Simon O’Shea in the 63rd and winger Robby Walsh in the 67th minute, Wright completed a 100% kicking record for the game bringing his total for the season so far to a very impressive 170 points. This not only pleased the huge Kilkenny following who gathered in Foulkstown but also his proud parents John and Sarah who travelled from New Zealand especially to see their son play for his new found home.

Kilkenny were simply excellent on the day and thrilled the home fans to the end. Each and every player gave their all however one player stood out amongst the rest, hooker Martin Leahy who was brilliant. His scrummaging strength and pin-point accuracy in his line-out throwing was exemplary, however his strength and work-rate around the pitch and commitment was the deciding factor in his selection as Man of the Match.

Kilkenny were presented with the Division 2A Cup directly after the game by the president of the Leinster Branch IRFU and were complimented on a hard-fought season. He welcomed them back to topflight rugby where he said they belonged.

Huge thanks must be paid to the coaching staff of Steve Ashmore, Pakie Henebry, DOC O’Connor for their tireless work and commitment throughout the season. Steve thanked the players for their hard work and the fans who travelled to every game in all weather to support the team.

Kilkenny are away to Athy in the Towns Plate on Sunday. Kick-off is at 3.00pm and it is hoped the celebrations will continue on over the bank holiday weekend.

Kilkenny Firsts: - Julian Hughes, Robby Walsh, Philly Walsh, Joey Manuel, Alan Pembroke, Willie Wright, Clive Kavanagh, Philly Ryan, John Phelan, Diarmaid Hickey, Gerry Clarke, Victor Ryan, Simon O’Shea, Martin Leahy, Wayne Kavanagh.

Subs: - Eddie Brennan, Tom Massey, Darren Bawle, Ray Pembroke, Conor Phelan.