After a bonus point home win on Sunday, Kilkenny lifted the Division 2a crown in Leinster and booked a return to the second tier thanks to a season of almost flawless winning rugby.
Kilkenny lost just the once all season – a seven point loss in Malahide at Christmas – and steamrolled most of their opponents average 32 points per game and conceding just 12 per game.
The losing bonus point in Malahide and their ability to match the north Dublin side for bonus points elsewhere proved key as it kept them in the driving seat and coming into the weekends game against already relegated New Ross, the hard yards had been made.
Still though, there was work to be done and the 49-0 win in front of a big home crowd rounded off a fine season for Steve Ashmore and co. The aim now will be to follow in the footsteps of Portarlington and Longford from recent seasons and establish themselves in the second tier.
Caption: Kilkenny receiving the trophy on Sunday. Pic: From Kilkenny RFC Facebook page.
Malahide lost out at Gorey, it was always going to be one of the tougher away assignments as the Wexford side’s efforts in this league have gone somewhat unnoticed in recent weeks with the top two pulling clear.
Gorey have lost just three games and all of them were tight. A two point loss at home to Kilkenny early doors was a set back and they lost by just seven in Malahide before losing by ten to the champions on home soil after Christmas.
Their good cup form and strong seconds side means that many expect them to contend next season.
Malahide have a play off to look forward to however against Ashbourne in a couple of weeks time and while they go into that as slight underdogs, they will be confident of pushing the Meath men from not too far away geographically, as close as possible.
At the other end of the table, Clane finished the season with another strong display in a home win over Portlaoise to get themselves ready for a Kildare derby in the promotion/relegation play off later this month when they face North Kildare.