J1: Leinster League, Sunday, 11/11/12
by Padraic Treacy
Kilkenny continued their unbeaten run in the Leinster League when they played Roscrea on Sunday in Foulkstown. The win has now put ten points between both these teams on the table however with both Malahide and Gorey scoring wins in their respective games, the battle for promotion is most definitely heating up at the top of the Division 2 table.
This turned out to be a bruising contest between two old rivals which delighted the respectable crowd that had gathered in the autumn sunshine to watch their local heroes. Kilkenny were without doubt the superior team on the day but in true Roscrea spirit, the visitors would not surrender an inch of ground right up to the final whistle.
The visitors put their stamp on the game by opening the scoring seven minutes in, capitalising on a momentary lapse in concentration by their hosts. Roscrea’s inside centre crossed the line and touched down under the posts with his backline partner adding the conversion.
Kilkenny dusted themselves down and began to take control of the game. With the forwards providing clean, quick ball for their backs, they ran at the Roscrea defence and finally forced an error on 18 minutes when Roscrea were caught entering the ruck from the side. Willie Wright stepped up and opened Kilkenny’s account with a fine long range penalty kick. The hosts increased the tempo from this moment on and on 24 minutes Wright again punished the visitors for their mistakes with another kick at goal.
The forward pack was well in gear at this stage and through the strength of props Wayne Kavanagh and Simon O’Shea they commanded the scrum. In the 28th minute Kilkenny were awarded a scrum on Roscrea’s 5 metre line and they drove their opponents back over the line and No.8, Philly Ryan dived on the ball and claimed the try. Wright’s conversion attempt bounced back off the post and unfortunately he also missed another chance at goal 8 minutes later. However on the stroke of half-time he put Kilkenny further in front with another 40m kick to leave the score 14 – 7 in favour of the hosts.
The second half kicked off and both teams squared up to each other again. Wright continued his fine kicking form by increasing the lead by a further 3 points in the 43rd minute. Roscrea were quick to reply and in the 49th minute they crossed the try-line to narrow the deficit. Roscrea unleashed the savage beast within, and 6 minutes later they crossed the line and levelled the score. The conversion attempt struck the post and Kilkenny breathed a sigh of relief.
Kilkenny remained composed and they switched into defensive mode. They took the lead again on 61 minutes through the boot of Wright and held out for the remaining quarter in what proved to be a nail-biting finish to a bruising contest.
Man of the Match was giant second row forward, Gerry Clarke, whose experience and vision for the game pulled his team mates through this tough contest. This was a fabulous win and defensive performance from the Foulkstown squad and they have proved that they are without doubt the team to beat this season. This game was always going to be a tough contest and Kilkenny came through it with flying colours.
They are away to bottom of the table New Ross next Sunday. Although they lost heavily to other teams in the last few weeks, New Ross are always ready to pull a surprise out of the bag and Kilkenny cannot afford to be complacent. Kick off in New Ross is 2.30pm. Supporters are very much welcome!
Kilkenny Firsts: - Julian Hughes, Clive Grehan, Joey Manuel, Alan Pembroke, Killian Everard, Willie Wright, Clive Kavanagh, Philly Ryan, John Harper, Ray Pembroke, Gerry Clarke, Victor Ryan, Simon O’Shea, Martin Leahy, Wayne Kavanagh.
Subs: - Eddie Brennan, Tom Massey, Willie Duggan, Philly Walsh, Alan O’Donovan.