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Kilfeacle Pass First Test In Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup

Kilfeacle Pass First Test In Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

October 26th 2019

Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup: 

Ashbourne 31 Creggs 22
Connemara 22 Gorey 25
Castlebar 3 Ballyclare 36
Dromore 38 Newcastle West 10
Instonians 21 Crosshaven 25
Kilfeacle 28 Wicklow 19
Kilkenny 49 Monivea 19
Richmond 15 Grosvenor 44

Kilfeacle & District are among the eight teams through to the Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup Quarter Finals after an entertaining opening round of action.

Wicklow proved a tough test at Morrissey Park despite being short of some front-line players. Kilfeacle & District were also understrength – they were affected in particular by Oola’s participation in the Limerick GAA Senior Football Championship Final.

It was the home side who prevailed 28-19 in sunny but windy conditions. 

“We knew what we were coming up against today with Wicklow,” Player Coach Willie Staunton told Irish Rugby TV.

“I actually saw them in the Towns Cup Final last year and they’re a pretty impressive side. Typical Leinster side – like to use a bit of width with the ball so we had our work cut out for us.”

Kilfeacle & District owned the strong wind in the first half and knew they’d need to build a lead. Staunton duly provided with two well struck penalties, the second kick from inside his own half. His pack then took over to win a penalty under the posts and Kevin Kinane made the most of the scrum option when he picked off the base to finish himself. 

The lead was out to 18-0 for the turnaround – a looping pass found its way to Cillian Noonan who improvised well to finish in the corner.

Staunton knew there was more to come: “They’re [Wicklow] a dangerous team and it was important any time we got into the green zone in the second half against the wind we said we had to come away with three points.”

Wicklow won a scrum against the head and drove their hosts back over their own line for Michael Doyle to score, prompting Staunton to kick three points at the next opportunity.

The introduction of player coach George Naoupu further helped Wicklow’s cause as they created space for Hugo Wojnar out wide. Kilfeacle responded when Ricky Whitney burrowed over but the Leinster men kept coming and Michael Doyle got over for a second try.

Staunton’s side couldn’t afford to rest on the nine point lead they had left, but they were able to defend it to the final whistle.

“We’re very happy with our defence today again at home. We pride ourselves on that. It’s a trophy that we’re going after again this year. We’ve a good draw. We’re at home all the way to the semi-final if we get that far. But very happy with the lads today. Our forwards really dug deep again.”

Staunton was one of over 50 coaches to attend the inaugural IRFU Performance Coaching course in July. There was consensus among the junior level coaches in attendance that core skills were central to performing well at that level.

“If we can get to four or five phases with basic skills we’ll be very very happy. Results are going our way. We’re not doing anything extraordinary. We’re doing the basics of rugby and it’s not a complicated game.”

You can hear more from Willie Staunton and see the action from Morrissey Park in the above video.

Scorers: Kilfeacle & District: Tries: Kevin Kinnane, Cillian Noonan, Ricky Whitney; Cons: Willie Staunton 2; Pens: Willie Staunton 3.

Wicklow: Tries: Michael Doyle 2, Hugo Wojnar; Cons: Ben Armstrong 2.

HT: Kilfeacle & District 18 Wicklow 0