J1: Leinster League, Sunday 13/01/13
by Padraic Treacy
Kilkenny Firsts and Seconds made the long journey to Mullingar on Sunday with both teams returning victorious. The cold and foggy weather did not make for ideal rugby conditions making the ground very soft thus hampering any chance of exciting running rugby.
The Seconds were the more successful of the two teams when they beat the home team by 29 – 8 while the Firsts secured a 15-7 win in a nail-biting game. The mood following the Firsts game was very sombre however spirits were lifted when news came through that Malahide had also failed to secure a bonus point in Roscrea despite beating their opponents 13-5 in a closely fought contest.
Kilkenny were without doubt the superior team on the day however Mullingar were prepared to give them a fight and make amends for the 38-15 savaging they had received in Foulkstown in October. They kept the visitors from scoring for the opening quarter of the game until Willie Wright landed a superb long range kick from just inside the Mullingar half to open the scoring for Kilkenny. He missed the opportunity to extend the lead 5 minutes later but help was on hand when Philly Walsh broke through the Mullingar defence on 31 minutes to score in the corner. Wrights conversion attempt rebounded off the post.
Following the restart and with three minutes elapsed since Walsh’s try, fullback, Alan O’Donovan slid over the line to score in the opposite corner. Wright’s conversion kick again hit the post but Lady Luck smiled on the young Kiwi as it ricocheted off the post and went over.
The travelling Kilkenny fans could see a repeat of last weeks Clane performance on the cards as Kilkenny went into the break comfortable 15 – 0 leaders.
Mullingar found new vigour in the second half and began to control the game. From a Kilkenny viewpoint, they thankfully missed two relatively easy kicking chances in the sixth and 13th minutes but the just reward for their efforts came in the 18th minute when they charged over the line to score an easily converted try.
Mullingar now used every ounce of energy they could muster up but Kilkenny remained solid for the remaining 20 minutes of the game and justifiably came away victors.
The top of the table remains unchanged with Kilkenny still with a nose in front of their chasers Malahide. It was an important win for the Cats away from home and they will have to maintain this level of performance for their remaining games.
With Man-of-the-Match titles going to back-row players for the past number of weeks, No.7, Johnny Harper maintained this record again this week having turned in a superb display of attacking and defensive rugby. The trio of Harper, Duggan and Ryan were a joy to witness as they took on the Mullingar team time and time again.
Kilkenny are at home on Sunday to Portlaoise who they also meet in the first round of the Towns Cup a week later on Sunday 27th January. A win is expected and Kilkenny certainly hope to see a big crowd in Foulkstown for both these encounters. Kick off on Sunday is 2.30pm.
Kilkenny Firsts: - Alan O’Donovan, Alan Pembroke, Philly Walsh, Joey Manuel, Rod Hogan, Julian Hughes, Willie Wright, Willie Duggan, Johnny Harper, Philly Ryan (C), Diarmaid Hickey, Victor Ryan, Eddie Brennan, Martin Leahy, Simon O’Shea.
Subs: - Wayne Kavanagh, Ray Pembroke, Emmet Lynch, Clive Kavanagh, Gerry Callinan.