Ashbourne Continue to Improve
Ashbourne took on the Provincial Towns Cup finalists for the last two seasons and came away with a win similar to 2014 when Ashbourne took the title. But for much of the game it did not seem that the home side would get a result.
For various reasons Ashbourne have struggled to field a settled team all season and this week was no different. Missing up to 8 potential starters and with a new young second row partnership of Murray and Mc Guinness, Ashbourne hoped it could get a third win in a row but the game did not start well.
Ashbourne started brightly enough with good runs from Deevy and Tormey. The first scrum was also solid but when Kilkenny got a scrum in their own 22, they went left and after a series of good passes and some missed tackling by Ashbourne, Kilkenny touched down for an excellent try which was converted. As they say game on and Kilkenny were running everything.
That said it was Ashbourne who struck back with some excellent movement from the home side in the 9th minute. From a lineout on the left 35 meters from the Kilkenny line, McCaghy found Rooney who returned the ball to the hooker who was looping around. He found McNally who moved the ball quickly to Carey. Deevy lurking at the first center spot got the ball and he hit the line against the grain and broke free to run the ball in from 30 meters out. Carey tied up the score with the conversion.
Kilkenny kept the pressure on and Ashbourne were struggling to contain the visitors. In the 15th minute the Kilkenny 10 found his winger with a cross field kick in open space with a well rehearsed move and he outflank the cover to double their score and retake the lead. Ashbourne tried hard but Kilkenny was resolute and Ashbourne took the 3 points on offer when Carey slotted a penalty in the 18th minute.
Kilkenny had a chance to add 3 points a few minutes later as well but missed the chance but did get a third try in the 33rd minute. From a line out on the right on the Ashbourne 5 meter line Kilkenny set up a ruck when they failed to get any changed they flashed the ball wide and with a brilliant offload in the center their left winger was put over in the corner and again they converted. They now led by 21 points to 10 and the feeling was that the 4th try was not far away. Carey added another penalty for Ashbourne before the break but at 21 points to 13 down the home side had a lot to do.
Ashbourne brought Casey Dunne onto the right wing at the break for Sean Kent and moved Adam Hughes into the center from the wing and it seemed to give a better balance to the side. The game settled into a bit of a stalemate with both teams negating themselves while some of the spark had gone from Kilkenny. And the longer the game went on the less likely it seemed that Kilkenny would kick on. Ashbourne were playing better and the set piece worked well. In fact in the 54th minute Alan Wall was harshly yellow carded for illegal scrummaging and at he next scrum Ashbourne with McCaghy moving to loose head and Dan Norton on as hooker, Ashbourne continued to drive forward. Veteran tight head Mark Behan continues to be solid in the front row.
The home sides conceded nothing, in the 10 minutes with 14 men and were growing in confidence. O’Neill replaced Colreavy. In the 60th minute Carey had a long rang penalty that hit the upright and that was the closest to a score until the 72nd minute when the game changed completely. Stephen Murray soared high and tapped back a Kilkenny lineout deep in the Kilkenny 22. McCaghy at the scum half position set the ruck up supported by Jake Wall and Deevy peeled away and gained ground. The ball was recycled through McNally and Carey who hit Hughes with a good pass. The hard running center drove hard into the Kilkenny defense before the ball was recycled through McNally to Tormey who broke right and was stopped illegally. From the penalty Alan Wall took a quick tap and found McNally who was stopped just short of the line. A ruck formed but the momentum seemed to have gone from the attack. The ball appeared at the base and McNally’s excellent pass found Tormey in space who bet his marker to notch up an excellent try. Dunne converted and Ashbourne trailed by 1.
From the restart the ball ended up in touch and a Kilkenny line out was awarded. Their hooker went for the jumper at the back of the line out and overthrew where McCaghy was on hand to tap it back. It ended up with Simon Deevy who took of in one of his trademark runs and covered 50 meters before finding his backrow partner Mark Rooney supporting who touched down for the home sides 3rd try. Dunne converted again and Ashbourne were in front for the first time leading by a score of 27 to 21.
Ashbourne were in the hunt for a 4th try and applied the pressure. Cramer made a good turnover, which won Ashbourne a scrum on the Kilkenny 22. With a clean strike the ball was played away from the base to McNally and onto Carey. He found Dunne joining in from the wing and broke up the middle. With the ensuing ruck Deevy pick the ball on the 22 and broke through the cover to score under the posts. Dunne converted and Ashbourne had the bonus point and saw the game out. The final score was Ashbourne 34 Kilkenny 21 and not one that was predicted at halftime. It moves Ashbourne up to 4th in the league.
Team: Alan Wall, James McCaghy, Mark Behan, Stephen Murray, Eoin McGuiness, Jake Wall, Mark Rooney, Simon Deevy, Conor McNally, David Carey, Andrew Tormey, Sean Kent, Tristan Cramer, Adam Hughes, Dermot Colreavy
Subs: Dan Norton, Ciaran Roche, Stephen O’Neill, Zbynek Schutz, Casey Dunne