Arklow off to a winning start with Kilkenny scalp
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.