Ark­low off to a win­ning start with Kilkenny scalp

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

ON a warm late sum­mer af­ter­noon Ark­low wel­comed the Mar­ble City to kick off the new sea­son. Ark­low were keen to be­gin as they left off last sea­son on win­ning terms and a tough pre-sea­son en­sured the boys were as pre­pared as they could be for this tricky en­counter.

Both teams tested each other early on, with Kilkenny stand­ing up to Ark­low’s fast mov­ing at­tacks. A lit­tle rusty play saw the home side drop usu­ally eas­ily caught balls in their ef­forts to break the Kilkenny lines.

Scrum half Padraig Birm­ing­ham was ac­tive from the start con­tin­u­ally re­cy­cling the ball from the break­down and af­ter 15 min­utes the Co. Wick­low side were re­warded with a try from Oran Kelly with daz­zling foot­work that any back would be proud of.

Ark­low now set­tled and put to­gether some nice passes with Conn Kin­sella pulling the strings at out half. A sec­ond Ark­low try came hot on the first with cen­tre Luke Doyle swap­ping his usual po­si­tion in the pack to make an out­stand­ing run and touch down to make Ark­low 10-0 up.

Ark­low now took their foot off the gas a lit­tle think­ing they were in for an easy day and this was quickly cor­rected when Kilkenny broke through the gain line to touch down un­der the posts and with their con­ver­sion were quickly back to 10-7.

With the heat, both sides were look­ing for­ward to half-time. Ark­low still had an­other good play within them and this time Sean McCarthy bat­tered the op­po­si­tion’s gain line to free up a clear path for Oran Kelly to grab his sec­ond of the day, a con­ver­sion by Conn Kin­sella saw the score read 17-7 at half-time.

The sec­ond half saw a re­ju­ve­nated Kilkenny score a try within a minute of the restart and the visi­tors were now back in the game at 17-12. At this stage Ark­low were look­ing at an up­set on last year’s back to back vic­to­ries over this team and they fi­nally rolled their sleeves up and go to work.

Harry Stevens mak­ing mas­sive tack­les in the cen­tre of the field lead to a turnover and the ever im­prov­ing Billy Mol­loy didn’t need a sec­ond chance as he ran 20 yards to score his sea­son opener. Ark­low now back in com­mand at 22-12 and they were look­ing like the team that won last sea­son’s Shield.

The ever ver­sa­tile Chris O’Brien was next to touch down af­ter some great play by the for­ward Roan Fre­hill. Ark­low now pulling ahead at 27-12.

Oran Kelly scored his hat-trick on 50 min­utes fol­low­ing a strong run and hand off mak­ing the score af­ter Conn Kin­sella’s con­ver­sion 34-12. All due re­spects to Kilkenny who were not go­ing down with­out a fight and they ran through for their third try af­ter 65 min­utes, quick think­ing by Conn Kin­sella pre­vented a suc­cess­ful con­ver­sion by Kilkenny which left the score at 34-17.

As the game edged to­wards the clos­ing stages, what must be the play of the day was car­ried out by hooker Jamie Tobin in clear­ing out a ruck in the cen­tre of the park which any pro­fes­sional player would have been proud off. The re­gain­ing of pos­ses­sion by Ark­low was not wasted and Luke Doyle was re­warded for his hard work with his sec­ond of the day.

So, Ark­low off to a good start to the sea­son and know they will need to be sharper again when they travel to play Wex­ford this com­ing week­end.

Ark­low’s Luke Doyle drives into Kilkenny ter­ri­tory.

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