Leinster League Under 17, Friday 23/10/09
Kilkenny 7 Athy 3
Two evenly matched teams played out an entertaining and keenly contested Leinster League game at Foulkestown under floodlights on Friday last. Both sides are at development stage wiith several newcomers to rugby on either team so while there were errors aplenty, there was sufficient talent on both sides allied to the closeness of the scores to produce a game that was in doubt until the final whistle.
Kilkenny's gradual improvement over the last few games was obvious in a number of areas, notably their orgainsation in defence where they refused to concede a try, holding firm during a 20 minute seige of their 22 in the second half where they kept their shape and organisation to repulse several tapped penalties and downed the bigger Athy runners every time.
Kilkenny were defending a narrow lead after a dream start when a Stephen Coonan tackle on the Athy centre led to Hugh Lane intercepting after three minutes. Hugh sprinted clear to score under the posts which was converted by Finbar Hayes. Athy replied with a penalty on 12 minutes and like the previous week, Kilkenny were the better side to the break .
However the inexperience of the locals was evident as a number of chances were spurned after good build up play when several times players got white line fever when close to the line, taking the ball into unnecessary contact resulting in three knock ons when passes would have meant certain scores.
Credit to the Athy cover defence who made their tackles count on every occasion and not letting Kilkenny players break the tackles.
For the second half Kilkenny defended well but could not get out of their half for over 20 minutes until a break out by the backs brought play to the Athy line. A resolute Athy defence refused to break despite the best efforts of the Kilkenny side as backs and forwards probed for an opening with cover tackles saving the day on several occasions.
Eventually Athy turned over a ball on their line when Kilkenny again should have scored and sealed the game however impatience by the forwards with the line at their mercy meant the opportunity was spurned. Athy kicked down field and in the last 5 minutes narrowly missed a penalty and came close to scoring several times before referee Kevin McDermotts final whistle gave Kilkenny a deserved win in a game they would surely have lost a mere 3 weeks ago.
While Kilkenny still have to play the leading and more formidable sides in the league after the mid term break continued improvement, especially in their physical commitment to the breakdown, where many of the side prefer to wait for others to do the work and win the ball for them sees too much ball being turned over to the opposition, will see them become a competitive side for the New Year Cup and Shield competitions which are their main targets.
Sspecial mention to Luke Kedney in his first game who played on wing and performed well opposite his Athy counterpart also playng his first game , Darren Knox for his throwing and the catching of the 3 jumpers, Robbie Corcoran who continues to show great promise at scrum half and Alex Stanley, who was very aggressive in his ball carrying which can become a good offensive weapon when he gains the confidence and experience to leave his wing and join in the attack.
Team: Adam Jordan, Luke Kedney, Finbar Hayes, (capt) Steve Noonan, Alex Stanley, Hugh Lane, Robbie Corcoran, Mike King, Darren Knox, Darren Bawle, Shane O'Neill, Brian Howe, Diarmuid Hickey, Liam McWey, Simon Cuddihy.
Mick McGrath, 24 October 2009