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  J1: Towns' Cup Round 2, Sunday 17/2/13

Tullow                     36
Kilkenny                 16           

by Padraic Treacy

Kilkenny’s hopes of Towns Cup glory this year were dashed on Sunday when they fell in their attempt to overthrow the mighty Tullow. The grounds at Black Gates were packed to capacity with both sets of fans making a great effort to support their respective teams.

Tullow were still riding on a high having won the Leinster League the previous week and gaining promotion to Division 1A for their efforts and were very confident that they would win. Kilkenny currently on top of the Division 2A table were also confident they could upset their opponent’s early celebrations and pull off a surprise win away from home but alas it was not to be on this occasion and a sharper Tullow side came out victors.

Kilkenny started well and fought hard for the first half of the game. With five minutes gone on the clock, Tullow were handed the opportunity to open the scoring when Kilkenny were penalised just inside the half way line. The Tullow kicker made no mistake with fine long range kick and the crowd roared with joy as the ball sailed between the posts. Kilkenny were not fazed and from the restart they forced an error from the home side and Willie Wright quietened the huge Tullow following with a beautiful 25metre kick at the posts. Four minutes later Kilkenny were again penalised but this time the Tullow attempt was not as good as the first as the attempt went wide.

Kilkenny seemed to be getting on top of things but a momentary lapse in concentration allowed their opponents to sneak through for a converted try on 16 minutes. Kilkenny again replied through the boot of Wright three minutes later and a further attempt was missed in the 33rd minute leaving the half time score at 10-6 to the hosts.

Kilkenny regrouped during the break and started the second half with great enthusiasm. However with just 46 seconds elapsed since the restart, disaster struck when the Tullow winger sailed over in the corner for his side’s second try. The conversion attempt rebounded off the post. Following the restart Kilkenny forced an error and Wright lined up to take the kick and on his approach to the ball it fell over from a gust of wind. The referee allowed him to reset but was given very little time to do so and his attempt went wide.

The Tullow machine was well and truly rolling at this stage and following the restart they gathered the ball and again broke through the Kilkenny defence and scored near the posts adding the conversion. Kilkenny did not wilt and the forwards took charge of proceedings and drove for the line. Mighty tight head prop, Wayne Kavanagh took possession of the ball and crashed over the line on 52 minutes to narrow the deficit. Wright was just off target with his conversion attempt.

It was stalemate for the next 15 minutes as both sides hammered each other. It was Tullow though who won the battle scoring two converted tries in the 65th and 68th minutes. Kilkenny did not give up and winger Alan Pembroke crossed the line six minutes from the end to score a late consolation try.

This was a valiant effort form the Kilkenny squad who were unfortunately beaten by a well-tuned Tullow squad who are aided in their training by Leinster and Ireland hero Sean O’Brien. Tullow have reached the final of this competition the last two years in a row however unsuccessful in both attempts and they are hoping to make it third time lucky. In true spirit of the game Kilkenny wished their opponents the best of luck for the remainder of the competition.

Despite the heavy defeat, Kilkenny can be very proud of their performance which should stand them well for their remaining Leinster League games. Best for Kilkenny were Wayne Kavanagh and Willie Duggan for their sheer bravery throughout the game.

Kilkenny will now have time to recover and regroup for their upcoming Leinster League clash away to Roscrea on 3rd March. A decision on whether to compete in the Towns Plate will be made by team management during the week.

Kilkenny Firsts: - Robby Walsh, Alan Pembroke, Philly Walsh, Joey Manuel, Rod Hogan, Willie Wright, Clive Kavanagh, Willie Duggan, Philly Ryan, Diarmaid Hickey, Victor Ryan, Gerry Clarke, Simon O’Shea, Martin Leahy, Wayne Kavanagh.
Subs: - Eddie Brennan, Tom Massey, John Phelan, Mark Coughlan, Ben O’Connor.

Quarter-final draw:

The draw for the quarter-finals was made in Tullow Rugby Club directly following the match. The draw was overseen by local hero Sean O’Brien and senior officials of the Leinster Branch IRFU.

The following teams will compete in the next round which will take place on 17/03/2013:

Cill Dara v Longford
Tullow v Ashbourne
Edenderry v Roscrea
Tullamore v Wicklow