The earliest mention of a rugby club in Kilkenny was in 1886, although rugby
may have been played in the Marble City prior to this date.
One of the reports of the time tells that in 1889 a team left Carlow, by the afternoon train, to play a match the following day, against 'Kilkenny County and City Football Club' at Dukes Meadows, by kind permission of the most noble Marquis of Ormonde.
The 'Sentinel' report of the match tells us that Kilkenny won a 'very rough match' by one try to nil.
Kilkenny played at St James' Park from the early 1900's until 1974 when they moved to their present ground at Foulkstown, opening their new clubhouse in 1976.
The Leinster Junior Cup was the fore runner of the Provincial Towns Cup and after many years of trying Kilkenny finally won it in 1920. The final took place in Lansdowne Road and Kilkenny beat old rivals Enniscorthy 3-0.
Among the team were Billy Gregory, Billy Kenealy, Dick Duggan and famous Kilkenny hurler Dr. J.J. Brennan.
In 1955 Kilkenny won the Provincial Towns Cup for the first time. The team had a fantastic record, losing only one match all season. In winning the Cup their line was crossed only once.
The team contained some of the great names of Kilkenny rugby, Joe Hehir, Andy Henderson, Syl Gaffney and Paddy Kavanagh to name just four.
Kilkenny beat North Kildare in the final after a replay.
top of page
Four years later in 1959 Kilkenny won the trophy again. Kilkenny had the services of International Jack Notley at out-half. Jack captained the team in a year when they were never beaten by any Junior side.
Old rivals Carlow were Kilkenny's opponents in the semi-final and it took two games and extra time to decide the issue.
In the final, North Kildare were again the opposition and a drop goal from Jack Notley was the only score of the match. Frank Fenelly, Paddy Kavanagh, Andy Henderson and Syl Gaffney were the survivors from the '55 team.
Kilkenny had to wait for 27 years, until 1986, before the trophy was won again. Kilkenny faced The Curragh in the final having beaten Navan, North Kildare, Portlaoise and Arklow along the way. The final was held in Drogheda and Kilkenny ran out winners 10-0.
The scorers were, current captain Willie Mahony, Nicky Mcgrath with Paddy O'Driscoll converting a try. The team was captained by Mick McGrath and also included current coach Ger McDonald, International Ned Byrne, Charlie Phelan, Joe Reidy and Murt Crotty.
Finals were lost in 1987 and 1998 before Kilkenny won the Provincial towns cup again, in 2001. A late Dave McMahon penalty won a close fought match against Portlaoise in Carlow. The team accounted for Mullingar, Tullamore and Ashbourne on their way to the final.
Simon Manuel captained the team that narrowly lost out on winning the Leinster League as well. Willie Mahony was the only survivor from the '86 team that also included coach Ger McDonald.