| U13 Leinster Plate Final
Portarlington RFC, 25 April 2010
Kilkenny 17-0 Mullingar
The threatened rain managed to hold off until after this match concluded which meant that both teams were able to serve up a fine display of hard, skilful rugby worthy of a provincial final.
Right from the kick off Brendan McSorley chased hard and laid down a marker for his team by crashing fearlessly into a giant Mullingar second row. The ball was won by Kilkenny and spun out to the centre of the pitch where Mullingar were penalised for being offside. Jake McDonald was only a fraction short with his attempt from 35 metres.
Kilkenny had the majority of the possession for the remainder of the first half with some excellent runs from full back Daniel O’Connor and centre Darren Mullen as well as McSorley and the other Daniel O’Connor foundering on strong Mullingar defence.
Kilkenny too had to defend well with prop Gareth Graham making one huge turnover tackle on the half way line and wing Lyndon Brannigan shipping an injury, which saw him replaced by Joe Connolly, with a brave tackle on the Mullingar right winger. Prop Mark Carrigan was also prominent in defence, particularly as a first up tackler when Mullingar were launching their big players from tapped penalties.
With only two minutes left in the first half Kilkenny were awarded a scrum on their own ten metre line. The ball was won and seconds later strong runs from the excellent Noel Whelan and hard running winger Connolly saw Mullingar conceding a penalty on their 22. A quick tap from scrum half Ian Buckley started an attack that saw captain Ben Devlin held up a few metres out. The ball was rapidly recycled to Number 8 Daniel O’Connor, sporting a huge head bandage after an accident with a stick during the week, and he powered over under the posts for the only try of a very hard fought half.
Kilkenny tried hard to get the score that would give them a little breathing space over a fiercely competitive Mullingar 15 and, only 3 minutes into the second half, wing forward Aiden McDonald made a trademark crunching tackle on half way and in the twinkling of an eye Noel Whelan had the ball ripped clear and sent out the line to William Spencer.
Spencer scorched to within ten metres of the line and passed to out half Jake McDonald who made a lovely break back across the pitch before being hauled down 5 metres out under the posts. Kilkenny were awarded a scrum, No. 8 O’Connor picked and drove but the ball was knocked from his grasp in the act of touching down over the line.
A couple of minutes later and this time an eye watering hit from Brendan McSorley knocked the ball loose near the half way from where front row colleagues Devlin and Graham powered into opposition territory. A series of bursts by Joe Connolly, McSorley, the hard working Finn Connolly and No. 7 McDonald were each halted only feet from the line by magnificent defending. Finally, right wing Michael Ryan had a go and, when he was tackled near the right corner flag, replacement prop Eoin Clarkson was on hand to pick up and dive over for a superb team score.
After 18 minutes Mullingar tapped and ran a penalty from the half way line. Gareth Graham once more produced a bone jarring tackle to win the ball for his team and slashing runs from full back O’Connor and Mullen brought Kilkenny to the 22. Mullingar were awarded another penalty which again they ran but this time it was fiery flanker McDonald who ripped the ball from them and launched Eoin Clarkson at the Mullingar defence.
When he was eventually slowed down Jake McDonald raced towards the try line and passed to his full back and O’Connor showed searing pace and determination to get in for the try that made it 17 – 0 to Kilkenny. Unfortunately a Mullingar player was injured in the lead up to this score and Mullingar conceded the game as they awaited attention for their player. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Joe Hyland from all associated with Kilkenny.
And so, an excellent season for the under 13’s finished with their second successful final in a week and another welcome piece of silverware. On behalf of the coaches involved I would like to say that it was the least they deserved after their dedication and hard work of the past 8 months and we look forward to working with most of them again next season.
Niall MCDermott 25 April 2010