Whatever about coming through Division 5 on their return to the Leinster League last season, life in Division 4 is certainly suiting Kilkenny RFC’s Women’s side this season.
The Foulkstown club posted another big in Division 4 of the Leinster League on Sunday, putting 68 points on the board and shutting out Wanderers’ women at the same time. They’ll have this coming weekend off before returning to action at the end of the month.
While their 243 points scored so far this season trails behind MU Barnhall (286) and Wanderers (297), they’re currently packing the tightest defence in the league having conceded just 31. Eight wins and one defeat from nine games leave Kilkenny top of the table on 32 points, eight clear of MU Barnhall with five games left to play this season.
It didn’t go as well for the men’s J1 side over the weekend, they let a 15-0 lead slip with 10 minutes to go against Suttonians on Saturday, falling to a 17-15 defeat. Kilkenny held the lead up to the 70th minute before fading under a dominant spell from Suttonians, coupled with some poor decision-making, to come out on the wrong side of the result.
The defeat leaves Kilkenny in 7th, level on points with Ashbourne with three wins from nine games in Division 1A this season. Seapoint prop up the league three points back with Kilkenny away to league-leaders Bective Rangers at Energia Park this Saturday at 2.30pm.
Kilkenny’s J2s did fare better, picking up a 39-17 win in an entertaining game with some blistering scores. With over 30 players available for the seconds, their season is looking pretty good.
Carlow back to winning ways but leave with heavy injuries
Carlow got back in the win column on Saturday night off having closed out the first part of the season with a frustrating 26-23 defeat at home to Mullingar. Starting 2023 on the road, they left the Showgrounds with a 20-7 win under the lights.
After facing a howling gale for the first 40 minutes the visitors held a comfortable 5-0 lead at the interval. The young Carlow backline gave their opposition no room to move which resulted in the Athy backs mishandling ball after ball in the first half. The threat of Athy out-half Craig Miller was also closed off at source.
Athy were saved from further pressure through the dominance of their scrum which resulted in a number of penalties against the visitors. 20 minutes into the half Miller narrowly missed with a long range penalty attempt. On the other hand, Carlow dominated the line-outs with Wes Shirley at number two causing havoc on the home throws. Just after Athy’s penalty miss Carlow suffered a double injury blow which could have changed the game.
In a single play, two Carlow players had to leave the pitch with season-defining injuries. Captain Owen Edgehill had broken arm bones and Carlow’s main ball carrier, Ross Elmes, suffered a serious knee injury.
This further weakened the visitors’ scrum but in spite of this Carlow worked their way up to the Athy line and two minutes after losing the two players Carlow got over for a maul try with Scott Neale credited with the touchdown. The conversion into the wind was narrowly missed by Ben Crotty but the visitors held the 5-0 lead into the interval.
With second-half wind assistance to come the visitors looked good for a victory. This picture was strengthened with a Carlow try within minutes of the restart. A good passing movement went across the backline and then back into scorer Paddy Mackey now playing at number 8. Ben Crotty converted to give the Oakpark side a 12-0 lead.
The home side rallied somewhat after this setback but every time they reached the Carlow 22, big wind-assisted clearances by Carlow’s fullback Ben Crotty or out-half Alan Owens drove them back 50 metres or more. Penalties and scrum dominance kept Athy in the game. Midway through the half Athy opted for a series of scrums from penalties near the Carlow line. Eventually, they got over the line with Dylan Connolly squeezing in at the corner. Craig Miller nailed the difficult conversion to make bring things back to 12-7.
Five minutes later when Carlow got a kickable penalty, Crotty slotting it over the bar to push the visitors into a two-score lead. This was soon pushed out to three scores when Carlow got another maul try following a penalty kicked to the corner. After this Athy never looked like breaking through the strong Carlow defence. The Carlow backline tackled low and hard often dislodging the ball in the process. From the Carlow pack John Lyons, Scott Neale and the back row all had storming games in closing down the opposition.
The win doesn’t change the table rankings but it has put a halt to a series of bad and unnecessary losses for the Oakpark team.
Tullow let lead slip
With Mullingar having taken the win over other Carlow opposition in December, this one went down to the wire. Despite taking an early lead and holding it into the second half, Tullow would slip to a 22-21 point defeat, both sides running in three tries at Shay Murtagh Park.
That result leaves Tullow, as leading point scorers in Division 1B of the Leinster League at this stage of the season, in second place, four back from Wicklow, two clear of Athy and three clear of Carlow. This Sunday sees Tullow and Carlow lock horns in the second local league derby of the year. When the sides met in October, Tullow walked away from Oak Park with a 19-17 win but it’s safe to say that victory for both sides is a must this weekend.
Tullow’s women slipped to a second straight defeat in Division 1 of the Leinster League, going down 34-10 to Railway Union at Black Gates to remain 5th in the table with three wins from nine..
Additional reporting John Shirley.