| J2: Towns' Cup Round 1, Sunday 03/02/13
by Padraic Treacy
Any hopes of Kilkenny Seconds emulating the recent success of their First team colleagues were quickly extinguished on Sunday when a tough Tullamore team arrived in Foulkstown and dispelled all hopes of adding another Towns Cup to their portfolio.
On a dry but blustery day, Kilkenny threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at their opponents but the Tullamore defence remained solid denying the hosts even a single scoring chance. This was a keenly fought battle with both teams matching up to each other perfectly. Neither side surrendered an inch of ground to the other, which was confirmed by the fact that nearly the entire game was played in the centre of the pitch. Indeed, Tullamore only entered the Kilkenny 22 on two occasions with the host team entering their opponents 22 on only one occasion late in the second half.
As cup ties go this was a stunning example of sheer bravery and guts. Both teams must have taken pointers from the fabulous Ireland Six Nations performance the previous day as every player put their bodies on the line for the cause of advancing to the next round. Kilkenny were unlucky when a number of vital decisions did not go their way which, in hindsight, could have had an impact on the final result. Nevertheless, when the half time whistle blew both teams had denied each other the chance to put points on the score board.
The second half was even more physical and bruising than the first, however it was Tullamore who broke the deadlock in the 46th minute, when they were awarded a penalty just inside the Kilkenny 22. Their kicker, aided by the strong wind made no mistake and slotted the ball neatly between the posts to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Kilkenny fought back but were very unlucky to be penalised 11 minutes later for a late tackle just inside their half which saw the guilty party receive a yellow card for the alleged offence. It was agreed by both sets of supporters that this was a very harsh decision as the tackler was already committed to the tackle and could not draw back in time. However, the scales of justice balanced in Kilkenny’s favour as the resulting attempt at goal drifted wide.
With Kilkenny now down to 14 men Tullamore tightened the screw. Kilkenny held strong and fought back. However in the 70th minute, they were penalised for a high tackle and the Tullamore kicker made no mistake on this occasion and stretched their lead to 6 points.
Kilkenny gave it their all for the remaining ten minutes of the game and piled on the pressure. They were awarded a penalty on the half-way line and legendary outhalf, Barry Daly expertly reached touch deep in the Tullamore 22. This was unfamiliar territory for the hosts but they drove at the line with all their might. Tullamore held strong, turned over possession and cleared the ball out of the danger zone. Unfortunately time ran out for the hosts before a counter attack could be launched and the game ended to the disappointment of the host team.
The sheer physicality and pace of the game made for very entertaining but nerve-wracking rugby. Each and every player should take solace that they put in a superb performance however adulation is no consolation for losing especially having put in such a good performance. With so much at stake, cup rugby can be a lonely place at times but it must be mentioned that Kilkenny were gracious in defeat and gave their opponents a rousing cheer as both teams headed for the clubhouse, wishing them every success in their remaining Towns Cup and Leinster League games.
It is extremely hard to pick one player from the Kilkenny team who excelled above the others as every player performed to the best of their ability, however as demonstrated by this result, there can only be one winner and that must go to flanker, Alan McIntyre whose tackle count and ground making ball carries were exemplary.
The Seconds can now turn their attention to the Leinster Plate, however a final decision on whether they will participate in this competition will be made by the coaching staff during the coming week. Pending that decision, Kilkenny Seconds next outing is on 3rd March against Roscrea in the Leinster League.
Kilkenny Seconds: - Colm Brady, Shane Raftery, Ben O’Connor, Vinnie O’Shea, Alan O’Donovan, Gerry Callinan, Victor Harper, Ronan O’Donoghue, Alan McIntyre, Ger Costello, Ray Pembroke, James Blanchfield, Eddie Brennan, Emmet Lynch, Darren Bawle.
Subs: - Brian Howe, Tom Massey, Brendan McIntyre, Robby Walsh, Barry Daly.