Ashbourne Do a Season Double over Kilkenny
Ashbourne travelled to Kilkenny to play a re-arranged league match and secured the win in a hard fought game played in poor weather conditions. The squad dug deep and delivered a win against the odds against a home side who have a proud home record.
This win secures Ashbourne a top 4 position and hopefully a third place position in the league. Qualification for next seasons All Ireland Junior Cup is also secured.
Ashbourne started brightly and the pack again getting the upper hand early on. In the 5th minute Ashbourne took the lead. On the halfway line Kilkenny had the put in but a big shunt by the Ashbourne pack secured the ball. Deevy picked and broke forward and got clear to sprint 50 meters to score with Keith Kennedy in support. Dunne was off with the conversion kicking into a strong wind.
Kilkenny came back strongly and pressed but Ashbourne were up for the challenge. Sustained pressure by saw Ashbourne prop Roche being sent to the bin, but if anything it galvanised the Ashbourne team and the raised the intensity. Bothe Kent and Gallagher were new faces in the pack and were doing really well and Keith Kennedy was making his presence felt at open side and tackled furiously.
In the 25th minute and still down to 14 men Ashbourne won a penalty on the halfway line. McCaghy took a quick tap and broke left. He found Keith Kennedy in space and put Cramer clear on the left wing. The center was eventually stopped on the Kilkenny 5 meter line. The ball was recycled a number of times and moved from left to right. Gavin Kennedy and Jake Wall carried until Crotty made a cut and again was stopped just short. Jake Wall, Deevy and McCaghy were all involved until McCaghy passed right from the base of a ruck to put Mark Behan over in the corner, and again it was unconverted.
Schutz replaced Crotty. Gavin Kennedy moved to 10. Ashbourne continued to press, but Kilkenny started to gain a foothold. Ashbourne indiscipline let them down and Kilkenny added two penalties before the break to narrow the score to 10 points to 6 at the break.
Kilkenny went ahead within 5 minutes of the restart with some poor defense letting Ashbourne down. After a series of poor kicks Ashbourne were outflank and Kilkenny touched down in the right corner. The try was unconverted but Kilkenny nudged ahead by a point. Dermot Colreavy replaced Gavin Kennedy.
Ashbourne have through the season the ability to dig deep and work hard for one another and they drew on this ability on Sunday. Sherrard was outstanding on the day and along with Dunne and Cramer tackled hard and was always dangerous. McCaghy led the pack well and Kent and Jake Wall as a new second row combination were very effective. Alan Wall came on for hard working Roche and the backrow of Kennedy, Deevy and Gallagher never gave up. 10 minutes later Ashbourne were back in the lead.
A missed Dunne penalty was first chance Ashbourne got, but a Jake Wall try got the lead back. Again it was the big Ashbourne scrum that set it up. From 10 meters out Ashbourne drove forward from Schutz’s put in. Deevy picked at the base but was tackled immediately and the ball put out into Wall’s hands and drove over the line. Dunne converted and Ashbourne took a 17 to 11 points lead.
As the built up to a grandstand finish the teams exchanged penalties and with Ashbourne defending a 20-point to 14 lead, Kilkenny piled on the pressure. It was all backs to the wall defending from Ashbourne and with McCaghy in the bin for the last few minutes it was bodies on the line. A major drive by Kilkenny was stopped by Ashbourne deep in injury time and with the ball held up over the line Ashbourne celebrated the final whistle and they left Kilkenny happy and relieved to secure the 4 points.
Ashbourne will travel to Wicklow next weekend in the 2nd round of the Provincial Towns Cup. Wicklow is a very tough club to visit and to get a result is a big ask. But in fairness today was a great dress rehearsal
Ciaran Roche, James McCaghy, Mark Behan, Jake Wall, Eugene Gallagher, Sean Kent, Keith Kennedy, Simon Deevy, Gavin Kennedy, Donal Crotty, Charles Coyle, Tristan Cramer, Adam Sherrard, Casey Dunne, Stephen O’Neill
Daniel Norton, Alan Wall, Jeff Mahon, Zybnek Schutz, Dermot Colreavy