Gorey’s U18s continued their unbeaten run in the Leinster League with a good win over Kilkenny in Clonattin on Saturday.
Both teams were depleted from recent injuries and the game went to uncontested scrums from the off. It was Gorey who made the stronger start and put the visitors under pressure defending in their own 22. They were duly rewarded when Gorey Hooker, Cormac Walsh got over the whitewash after a pick and go after just six minutes. Oisín Fortune added the conversion to leave the score; Gorey 07 Kilkenny 00.
But from this juncture Gorey seemed to lose their usual disciplined shape and sloppy play allowed Kilkenny back into the game. Gorey had to defend well and big tackles from Joe Butler, Oran Fitzpatrick and Gonzalo Sanchez saved them on a number of occasions. Kilkenny fought hard but just couldn’t seems to break through the Gorey defence.
Despite their poor shape, Gorey were putting in big hits in particular from the recently returned Alex Rothwell, and there were some good runs by Sanchez and Brian O’Leary. Cormac Walsh once again took advantage to score his and Gorey’s second try of the day. (Gorey 12 Kilkenny 00).
Kilkenny continued to stretch Gorey and after sustained pressure on the Gorey line they finally got over for a well-deserved try of their own on the half hour mark. The subsequent conversion narrowed Gorey’s lead to Gorey 12 Kilkenny 07.
It looked like the visitors might close the gap even more but for two incredible solo runs in the last few minutes of the half, first by Gorey Scrum Half, Cillian Tomkins followed immediately afterwards by Sean Wafer to leave the half time score; Gorey 26 Kilkenny 07.
The second half started with a much better organised Gorey team and they spread the ball and ran some excellent lines, more in keeping with what we’ve come to expect from this talented side. Full Back, Oisín Fortune, made a great run before passing out to the supporting Sean Wafer who beat several Kilkenny tacklers and passed out to Gorey Captain Tadhg O’Neill, who dodged and weaved before diving over to extend Gorey’s lead after just 5 minutes of the second half. (Gorey 31 Kilkenny 07)
Gorey seemed to have found their mojo now and their more disciplined approach was now exposing gaps in the Kilkenny defence. Sean Wafer kicked a perfectly judged long ball over the defensive line that resulted in 5 metre lineout. After a couple of phases, Cormac Walsh appeared to have gotten over for his hat-trick try of the day, but was judged to have been held up. However, when Cillian Tomkins decided to run a quick penalty, he released Jack Ryan for Gorey’s sixth try of the day. (Gorey 38 Kilkenny 07).
Despite the large points difference, Kilkenny continued to fight and pose a threat to the home side. Their persistence was rewarded when they managed to break the line and over for a second try. (Gorey 38 Kilkenny 12)
Kilkenny were coming back in to the game again and just when they might have seemed to be getting a hold in the game, Gorey’s replacement Prop, Cian Sullivan took hold of the ball and powered over to re-establish Gorey’s lead. (Gorey 45 Kilkenny 12)
But to their credit, Kilkenny never stopped fighting even as the clock ticked toward the full time mark. And it was no more than they deserved when they got through again to leave the final score; Gorey 45 Kilkenny 17.
This was a good win for Gorey to continue their unbeaten run, but there’s no doubt that there will be questions asked about their first half performance. Kilkenny for their part will be disappointed with the scoreline, but must take a lot away from a strong performance with a depleted squad.
Gorey had some outstanding performances with special mention for the return of Alex Rothwell, a great performance out of his normal playing position by Adam Byrne and the huge tackle count of Joe Butler. But for sheer determination and great support runs, the man of the match goes to Oran Fitzpatrick.
Gorey are on the road next week when they travel to Skerries.
GOREY; 1. Niall Kenny, 2. Cormac Walsh, 3. Jack Ryan, 4. Joe Butler, 5. Tadhg O’Neill (C), 6. Oran Fitzpatrick, 7. Alex Rothwell, 8. Adam Byrne, 9. Cillian Tomkins, 10 Cathal Stokes, 11. Eoin Canavan, 12. Gonzalo Sanchez, 13. Brian O’Leary, 14. Andrew Cushen, 15. Oisín Fortune. Subs; 16. Carl Johnston, 17. Cian Sullivan, 18. Rhys Slator, 19. Sean Wafer, 20. Donough McGivern.