CARLOW’S U18.5 team did the club proud on Saturday when they brought home the Leinster League Division 1 cup for that age grade. The Carlow lads secured the trophy by beating Kilkenny in the final in Mullingar.
The victory was just as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests. All through the match the Oak Park side showed great teamwork alongside some outstanding individual performances.
However it was Kilkenny who scored first. A series of penalty concessions pinned Carlow back in their 22. After eight minutes following another free on the Carlow line, Kilkenny opted to scrum. From this their centre Ferdia Roche got in for a try under the Carlow post.
It took the Oak Park side another 10 minutes before registering their first score. It came when Carlow opted to scrum from a penalty award. After several of the bigger team members were repulsed by Kilkenny defenders it fell to the diminutive but tigerish Josh Cope to dart through for a touchdown.
The conversion was missed but Carlow were getting the upper hand and over the next 15 minutes they scored two more tries. The first was scored by captain Barry Gray after good work by Anto Keating and the Carlow pack.
This was followed by a block down 40 metres out by Cormac McElligott who gathered the ball and went all the way to the line. The conversion by Ben Crotty pushed Carlow into a 17-7 lead but on the stroke of half time Kilkenny got in for a soft try in the corner by their left wing John Ring.
The conversion was missed leaving the half-time score 17-12 to Carlow.
Kilkenny didn’t score again as Carlow began to dominate the game. The Noresiders weren’t helped by a number of injuries.
Carlow’s advantage was pushed out to eight points when Crotty goaled a penalty in front of the posts early in the second half. Carlow were camped in the Carlow 22 for almost the next 10 minutes without another score as Kilkenny secured a number of last-ditch turnovers.
Eventually right winger David Dunphy cut through for a try but this try was made possible by Cormac McElligot catching the Kilkenny outhalf and forcing him to touch down behind his own line.
The conversion of the Dunphy try put Carlow into a 27-12 lead which was more or less game won. Carlow emptied their subs bench and the subs continued to pile the pressure on the opposition, leading to a second score from Barry Gray.
All though the game Carlow seemed to have a scrum advantage in that they drove the opposition backwards. However the referee decided the Carlow front-row stood up and penalised them again and again often letting Kilkenny off the hook. Carlow’s lineout mostly worked well but the wind led to some crooked throws again taking pressure off the opposition.
This Carlow team is also in the final of the South East Cup and the Leinster Cup where they play the winners of Longford and Portarlington.
Carlow: Ben Crotty, Anto Keating, Sean Quinlan, Bobby Cope, David Dunphy, Alan Owens, Josh Cope, Cian Clarke, Matthew Keogh, Paddy Rogers, Josh McAlister, Evan Browne, Callum Fisher, Cormac McElligott Barry Gray. Subs: James Cowan, William Walsh, Darragh Brennan, Milo Feeney, Evan Curry, Dan Brennan, Fiachra Fitzpatrick, Ciaran Timmons.