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U14 South East League, Sunday 26/9/10
Kilkenny 17-10 Gorey

A fine, calm morning at Foulkstown for this South East League under 14 game, Kilkenny’s first of the new season. Two very well matched teams played a tense, exciting game that was only decided in the final minute. Gorey were first into their stride in this game, putting the Kilkenny defence under pressure from the opening minutes.

Fine tackles by centre Michael Ryan and his fullback colleague Paddy Ryan, twice, stopped earlier Gorey attacks but, when they set up a ruck 5 metres from the Kilkenny line 8 minutes into the game, there was no stopping their powerful No. 8 from bursting over and giving his side a 5 point lead.

Kilkenny had the lion’s share of possession for the next 15 minutes or more, good runs from prop Eoin Clarkson and second row Finn Connolly eventually driving play to within 15 metres of the Gorey line before Kilkenny were awarded a penalty for a high tackle. Hooker Ben Devlin quickly tapped the penalty, starting a move that stretched the away defence all the way across the pitch before the ball was swiftly transferred back for long legged lock Brendan McSorley to gallop under the posts and score. Out half Jake McDonald had no problem bringing the score to 7 points to 5 in favour of the home side with the conversion.

Kilkenny were on the back foot for a good deal of the last 5 minutes of the half with wing Lyndon Brannigan along with centre Ryan and the all action McSorley particularly prominent in defence before Gorey, in an almost carbon copy of their first try, set up one of their props to crash over from a metre out just to the right of the Kilkenny posts.

Directly from the following kick off a great chase and tackle from Kilkenny prop Gareth Graham smashed the ball loose and forced Gorey to concede a penalty 30 metres from their line. No. 10 McDonald confidently stroked home the kick to leave the half time score at 12 points to 10 in favour of Gorey.

The second half was a curious affair in that, while Kilkenny totally dominated territory and also had the great majority of the possession, they could translate neither into scores. Time and again promising moves were spoiled by poor decision making or silly turnovers when a score looked a certainty.

Loose forwards Daniel Rafter and Luke Hassan came on to add impetus to the home sides incessant attacking and still no end result until finally, with only a minute of the game left, the ball was worked once more to the excellent Michael Ryan, Kilkenny’s top tackler in the game, who used great pace and commitment to crash over for a try 20 metres to the right of the Gorey posts. As waves of relief and despair ran through the respective camps Jake McDonald kicked the conversion to leave Kilkenny winners by a score line of 17 points to 12.

Squad: Gareth Graham, Ben Devlin, Eoin Clarkson, Brendan McSorley, Finn Connolly, Jay Leahy, Aiden McDonald, Daniel O’Connor(No. 8), Ian Buckley, Jake McDonald, Michael Ryan, Daniel O’Connor(centre), Lyndon Brannigan, Marcus Stapleton, Paddy Ryan, Daniel Rafter, Luke Hassan.

Anyone born in 1996 or 1997 and who would like to experience the thrills of the great game of rugby is more than welcome to come training any Monday or Wednesday evening at 6.45pm sharp at Kilkenny Rugby Club.

Niall McDermott, 26th September 2010