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Leinster U13 Plate semi-final

Sunday, April 11th 2010

On a gloriously sunny morning Kilkenny made the increasingly familiar journey to Portlaoise to try and finish their season with an appearance in two finals.

The Kilkenny lads started well and good runs from Mark Carrigan, full back Daniel O’Connor and centre Darren Mullen led to a Cill Dara scrum 10 metres from their own line.

Great back row pressure forced a poor kick to touch by the Cill Dara out half and an inch perfect long throw from hooker Ben Devlin sent No. 8 Daniel O’Connor on a burst from the tail of the line out. Quick rucking when the No.8 was tackled saw the ball swept out to Darren Mullen who sidestepped over for the opening score.

Kilkenny kept the pressure on with some excellent handling and support play over the next ten minutes, constantly testing the opposition defence in their own half. However two penalties in a row to Cill Dara relieved the pressure on them and allowed them to kick their way to the Kilkenny 22.

Kilkenny actually won the line out and were running the ball out of defence when a turnover saw the powerful Cill Dara full back race over under the posts for a try.

A quick drop out by out half Jake McDonald and a great chase and tackle from left wing Lyndon Brannigan allowed full back O’Connor the opportunity to show his pace and force a desperate Cill Dara defence to concede a penalty 30 metres out. McDonald was only just short with his attempted kick.

On 20 minutes a thrilling run by Michael Ryan ended with him adjudged to have knocked on in the act of scoring. More tigerish pressure from Kilkenny led to McDonald recovering a fumbled ball from the Cill Dara scrum and a superb pass from Ben Devlin gave William Spencer the space to hare in for a fine try.

5 minutes later and again Ryan scorched up his wing and again Cill Dara were awarded a scrum. This time the ball was won against the head, picked up by big ‘Doc’ who charged toward the line and offloaded to Darren Mullen to score his second try of the game, under the posts.

With only a minute to go in the half hard working Number 6 Jay Leahy pounced on a ball that shot out of a Cill Dara scrum on half way and sent William Spencer and Michael Ryan sprinting and weaving up the field until Ryan was tackled into touch on the 22. Prop Mark Carrigan snaffled the ball from the throw in and started a passing move that went through every back’s hands until Lyndon Brannigan dived over in the left corner. Jake McDonald’s excellent conversion attempt came back off the post to leave Kilkenny leading by 24 points to 7 at the break.

The second half was as well contested as the first although it featured a disappointing number of Kilkenny errors that left a series of try scoring opportunities unconverted. One chance they did not pass up came when a couple of storming runs by replacement second row Brendan McSorley-who brought a sizeable travelling fan club from Tyrone-forced a penalty to Kilkenny 10 metres from the Cill Dara line.

Scrum half Ian Buckley tapped and fed his half back partner McDonald who beat his man and sent No. 8 O’Connor on a burst for the posts. When he was tackled ‘Doc’ found the excellent Noel Whelan steaming up on his left shoulder and the second row took the pass to burst over for the score his all round display richly deserved.

Cill Dara worked their way back up the pitch and eventually were able to send their hard running full back over for their second try.

Kilkenny were determined to have the last word and with one minute to go got their opportunity when Cill Dara were awarded a line out just outside their own 22. They won the ball from their own throw in but with the ball came the rampaging McSorley who put in two crunching tackles in quick succession to force a turnover. The ball was rapidly transferred to Jake McDonald who whipped out the pass that invited the elusive Darren Mullen to glide in for his hat trick try.

There were good tackling displays from openside Aiden McDonald and both Brendan McSorley and Darren Mullen but leading the way today was big hearted prop Gareth Graham who had a fine game in scrum and open play. The final score of a match that saw Kilkenny book a place in the final against Mullingar was Kilkenny 38 Cill Dara 12.

Niall McDermott 11 April 2010