U17 Leinster League
Kilkenny 12 Wicklow 24
Kilkenny gave their best display of the year to date when going under to a strong Wicklow side in this 3rd round fixture. However despite working extremely hard throughout and giving a very committed and physical performance they were undone through a combination of naivety at this level which cost them 2 clear scoring opportunities and the easy concession of two tries where Wicklow did not have to work particularly hard to score.
Played in ideal conditions in Foulkstown Kilkenny weathered an early barrage by Wicklow where their defence was excellent, denying the visitors space and continually meeting the Wicklow runners behind their gain line with Hayes and Noonan to the fore. The only concession was a penalty after 12 minutes as the home discipline was excellent.
After 18 minutes a great break out by the back line led to captain Finbar Hayes feeding Adam Jordan who was denied in the corner. From a resultant penalty Kilkenny moved the ball quickly to Brian Howe who made the hard yards before feeding Jordan who scored an excellent try.
From there to the break Kilkenny were the dominant team but several opportunities went abegging as they were pulled back twice at penalties as indecision led to illegal moves. Turning at half time ahead the game was there for Kilkenny to win but in the first minute of the second half a long clearance by the Wicklow out half was mishandled and Wicklow scored in the corner excellently converted from the side line.
Worse was to happen as Kilkenny won a great steal at the line out but instead of driving on a pass direct from the forwards went to ground and as the penalty was awarded in front of the posts Kilkenny turned their backs expecting a kick only for Wicklow to run the ball and theIr prop scored again in the left corner.
Kilkenny looked to have weathered the storm until 20 minutes in a great take and drive from their own 22 was delivered at the wrong time to Finbar Hayes whose clearance was charged down for another easy concession. Kilkenny could have given up the ghost but fought back and after phases of their best forward play to date, allied to good support rucking by the backs Ultan Moran drove over for a try converted by Hayes.
Two other scores went abegging as Kilkenny naively tapped short penalties and ran straight at the bigger Wicklow forwards when kicks to touch would have had the inferiour Wicklow line out defending under pressure.
A late penalty concession finished the scoring. However this was by far the best and most committed performance to date as even in defeat the team defended ferociously and with organisation meaning Wicklow were unable to create their own chances.
The scrum was generally solid despite some lapses while the lineout secured the majority of ball. It was encouraging that despite the abscence of scrum half Ronan Corcoran Kilkenny are moving slowly to full strength and as the young players get to grips with the more physical and organisational demands at this level the side will be a force to contend with in weeks to come especially with the return of Darragh Morrissey and hopefully several dual players who have just finished hurling with their clubs and schools.
Special mention to Adam Jordan who has converted to full back and had a stormer, the accurate throwing of Liam Knox the athletic lifting and jumping of the forwards, Finbar Hayes who despite being double tagged still looked the best back on either side.
While Brian Howe in his first appearance of the season after injury looks to have the physique and ability to develop into a top class player.
Team: Adam Jordan, Ed Aakes, Steve Noonan, Finbar Hayes, Alex Stanley, Hugh Lane, Liam Mcwey, Mike King, Liam Knox, Darren Bawle, Steve Brennan, Brian Howe, Ultan Moran, Diarmuid Hickey, Shane O'Neill.
Subs James Quinn, Richie Dunphy, Simon Cuddihy
Fixtures - the league takes a break for 2 weeks but it is hoped to get a challenge in this time. However the small numbers of the panel mean that this may not be possible durng holidays. Anyone at this age group wishing to try out rugby are welcome to training this
Thursday 7.30 sharp.
Mick McGrath, 17th October 2009