Clon continued their unbeaten start to their Premier Division campaign with a narrow, hard-fought away win in the Marble City. Played in good weather but in tricky conditions underfoot, both teams gave an excellent account of themselves in a thrilling contest that had the large crowd gripped until the end. In what was the first time these teams have met, the home side piled on the early pressure right from the kick off and they were 7 nil up within 2 minutes.
However, it was clear that Clon had an advantage in the scrum with the likes of Rían Gannon, Jack Daly, Josh Domican, Cillín Walsh-Phillips, Liam Goodwin and debutant Aaron Kenealy-McCabe exerting some serious pressure in the set pieces. This laid the platform for Clon to get go-forward ball, and some brilliant hands in a backline that included Pádraig Downey, Luke Murray and Cillian Lowth saw the men in yellow put together some flowing moves throughout the game.
It wasn’t long before Clon equalised. Kilkenny tried to run the ball from their own 22 but quick-thinking Elliot Walsh came up in the line and grabbed an intercept before crossing unopposed over the try line. Danny Steed, who had a fine game as first five-eighth, slotted the extras and it was game on.
Both Clon scrumhalves who featured in the game, Mikey Branigan and Jack Campbell, were proving to be a real nuisance at the breakdown and, with ball in hand, they kept things ticking over for the likes of Oran Murphy and Naglis Lisauskas to go on their trademark lung-bursting runs. Number 8 Josh Apps was his usual bulldozing best and Lee Carroll and Tommy Xin-Wilkie provided brilliant support work at the rucks. Kilkenny had some big units in their pack and regained the lead after 20 minutes but Clon came back once again. Some great interplay between backs and forwards set flying winger Dylan Freeman free. He was held up just short but team captain, Thomas Carter, was on hand to finish off a great Clon move in the corner to leave the half time score 14-12 to the home side.
In the second half, Walsh nabbed two more tries to complete a brilliant hat-trick as the Dublin team edged in front, the first when collecting Murphy’s kick through and the second another opportunist intercept.
But Clondalkin were also having to defend for long periods and their tackling proved be the foundation on which the victory was built, with the likes of Jack Quinn and Corey O’Byrne leading the charge. Kilkenny finished strongly in the closing stages, first, kicking a penalty to secure a bonus point but then scoring a try with the last play of the game. But a draw proved just out of reach for the hosts and it was Clon who headed home with the points. They now look forward to the visit of Wexford to Gordon Park as they look to keep the momentum going.