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South East League Tullow V Kilkenny Under 13s
Saturday 30th January

After a long break, Kilkenny under 13s finally got back into competitive action on a bright, cold day in Tullow. The game was evenly contested for the opening ten minutes with some good ball carrying from Noel Whelan, his second row partner Finn Connolly, prop Gareth Graham and wing Paddy Ryan.

On the defensive side the stand out performer was back row Jay Leahy with three crunching tackles and a superb charge down of a kick in the space of no more than 5 minutes. Unfortunately play had to be stopped in the eleventh minute after a bad injury to the excellent Tullow Number 7.

All involved with Kilkenny extend our best wishes to the lad for a speedy recovery. When play resumed 15 minutes later, centre William Spencer wasted no time in making a storming break into Tullow territory before being halted only a few metres from the try line. Kilkenny won the ensuing line out and set up a maul from which openside Aiden McDonald burst up the blind side for the opening score.

Five minutes later and prop Mark Carrigan won a line out near half way and set up another maul before Number 7 McDonald took off again and was tackled on the Tullow 22. Big Noel Whelan drove the ball up to 5 metres from the line where Mark Carrigan appeared to finish the move he started moments before with a fine try by the posts.

Tullow gained a foothold in Kilkenny territory for the next five minutes but were frustrated again and again by superb defence. Tullow were made to regret their inability to score when, from a scrum on their own 22, the away team swept the ball from touchline to touchline twice before feeding flying full back Daniel O’Connor on the half way line. Using searing pace and wonderful side stepping Daniel finished a fine team move by scoring under the posts.

Kilkenny were rampant now and from the kick off a couple of beautifully timed passes released centre Michael Ryan 50 metres out and he too showed electric pace to outstrip the defence and touch down where his full back done only minutes before.

Almost immediately a carbon copy move saw the spring heeled Ryan again scorch up the line only to see him step into touch on the Tullow 22 thanks to confusing pitch markings. Kilkenny snatched the Tullow throw in and after strong runs from Number 8 Daniel O’Connor and his back row colleague McDonald, centre William Spencer hared over from 15 metres for another fine score. As he had done for every previous try, out half Jake McDonald calmly added the two points to this try as well.

The half finished with a thundering, defence scattering 40 metre burst from Mark Carrigan who was eventually brought to ground only centimetres from the try line to leave the half time score at an emphatic 35-0 to Kilkenny.

Kilkenny began the second half as they finished the first and, only a few minutes in, Number 8 O’Connor picked up from a scrum on the Tullow 10 metre line and strode powerfully to the 22 where the supporting Jake McDonald raced under the posts giving himself an easy conversion chance.

Straight from the kick off the Kilkenny Number 10 ran well again before feeding replacement prop Eoin Clarkson who rampaged through and over a series of would be tacklers and touched down for the score that helped bring the score to 49-0 for the team in black.

A proud Tullow team showed that there was plenty of fight left in them when five minutes later they worked the ball through several phases before giving their right winger the opportunity to score from 5 metres out which he gratefully accepted.

Kilkenny’s second half replacements began to find their rhythm and powerful runs by out half Joe Connolly, full back Ross Lennon and powerhouse prop Sean Bateman saw the latter held up agonisingly close to the try line.

Kilkenny refused to be denied however and more terrific interplay between backs and forwards worked the ball out to the ever-improving Luke Hassan to crash over for the final try of the game. Joe Connolly, who managed to finish the match as Kilkenny’s top tackler, converted this expertly.

The game ended shortly after with another excellent back move featuring the flashing feet of Alex McDonald and a cheeky dummy pass from wing Kevin Mullen and a final score of 56 points to 7 to Kilkenny.

Niall McDermott