Changes at coaching level along with some new recruits on the field are just some of the steps Kilkenny have taken in the off season to strengthen their position in the Leinster League Division 1A.
Having pretty much coasted Division 1B in 2014/15, including back-to-back appearances in the Provincial Towns Cup Final, last season proved something of a steep learning curve for the men of Foulkstown. Sundays become Saturdays, availability for matches starts to become an issue, injuries start to creep in and form on the road – for the first half of the season at least – was lacking, Kilkenny’s ability to close out games not where it had been in previous seasons.
Post-Christmas, things turned around somewhat though with only five wins from fourteen, Kilkenny finished the season in fifth place, level on points with Monkstown in sixth who they welcome in their opening game of this year’s Leinster League campaign on Saturday.
There’s a new coach in town
Steve Ashmore has departed the mens senior setup, though in recent weeks he’s taken over as womens coach. Speaking to KCLR on Thursday, Packie Hennebry noted
“Steven Ashmore, I think, after three years he just had enough of it – totally, mentally drained after the whole thing. Two Towns Cup Finals, getting us up two divisions, he just wanted to take a break.
We have Gordon Rowe now on board from Carlow and he seems to be going fairly well at the moment. With training, we’re back seven or eight weeks for strength and conditioning and doing a lot of ball work over the last few weeks, three games under our belt (the South East League) and three wins, so hopefully it’s a good omen.
We’ve recruited four or five new players (to the senior ranks) and held onto the guts of what we had already.”
Take a listen to Packie Hennebry in conversation with KCLR’s Stephen Byrne here.
The opening of Division 1A’s fixtures last season also threw Monkstown and Kilkenny together at Sydney Parade, Monkstown coming out the better of a 22-13 scoreline. When the sides met for the second time heading into the Christmas break it was Kilkenny to edge out the Dubliners by a single point, holding on for an 11-10 victory.
The comprehensive win over New Ross coupled with last week’s victory over Carlow gives Kilkenny good momentum going into the start of a new campaign. Every side in the league would have wanted a home game for their first game, and luck of the draw sees Kilkenny welcome Monkstown to Foulkstown albeit with a change of previously advertised times. The J2 clash will now get underway at 3pm while the J1s meet at 5pm.