GOREY 29 SKERRIES 17
Gorey’s under 18’s travelled to Skerries on Saturday for their penultimate game in the qualifying phase of the Leinster Premier League for what was sure to be one of their toughest tests to date. A win for Gorey would see them go joint top of the league with Navan, who they are due to face in the final game of the qualifications.
Injuries the previous week to two of Skerries Props meant that the game was played with uncontested scrums.
It was Gorey who started strongest, immediately putting the home side on the back foot. Within minutes of the start Gorey had worked themselves into Skerries 22 and a fine kick from Cathal Stokes left them with a lineout. Tadhg O’Neill comfortably gathered the ball from the lineout and it found its way out again to Stokes who deftly chipped over the defensive line for the speedy Seán Wafer to chase and gather for Gorey’s opening try. Stokes also added the conversion to see the visitors leading by 7 points with just 5 minutes gone.
Skerries fought back and found themselves with a lineout of their own on Gorey’s 5 metre line. Gorey managed to tap the ball away from the Skerries jumper but the alert Skerries scrum half was first to react and fortuitously pounced for an equalising try to leave the side level at 7 points apiece.
Gorey continued to have the upper hand and it was all that Skerries could do to defend phase after phase of attacks and kick for territory when the opportunity presented itself.
On the 20 minute mark Gorey were awarded a 5 metre scrum from which they passed the ball out and formed a maul, which they marched relentlessly towards the Skerries line where Oran Fitzpatrick grounded the ball in a well-orchestrated move straight from the training field.
Just minutes later Gorey Centre, Seán Wafer collected the ball in Gorey’s half and ran the length of the pitch dodging and weaving between attempted tackles for a super solo try. Stokes, deputising for injured regular kicker Oisín Fitzpatrick, slotted over the conversation to leave Gorey leading by 7 – 19.
Although Gorey were dominating the exchanges they still had to defend well at times, as the talented Skerries team threw everything at them. Incredible tackling by Joe Butler, Alex Rothwell and Frank Kavanagh ensured that the home side’s progress was stopped in its tracks.
The first half finished with a penalty to Gorey, which Stokes confidently converted to leave the half-time score; Skerries 07 Gorey 22.
The second half started with Gorey continuing where they’d left off, spending the opening period camped in the Skerries’ 22. They launched several rolling mauls, all of which were stopped by Skerries just short of the try line, which the referee seemed happy with. Finally, they managed to march one right across the Skerries line for Cormac Walsh to score, but the referee was unsighted and deemed it to be held up.
Ten minutes into the second half, Gorey were reduced to 14 men, when Joe Butler was yellow carded for what seemed like a text book tackle.
But Skerries couldn’t capitalise on their numerical advantage as Gorey’s defence was well organised and impenetrable. Two outstanding tackles by Gorey Winger Eoin Canavan stopped what could have been valuable scoring opportunities for the home side.
Once again Seán Wafer chased after a Cathal Stokes kick-through and he gathered the ball without missing a step and grounded directly under the posts for his hat-trick try, but to his surprise the referee called play back for offside.
But it didn’t take long for Wafer to respond, giving no opportunity for any disputes, he gathered a loose ball in midfield and ran through Skerries defence for his well-deserved hat-trick.
Skerries responded almost immediately with a try of their own when their winger managed to avoid a tackle to bring them a little closer to Gorey at 12 – 29.
As the second half ran into almost 10 minutes of overtime, Skerries were rewarded for their perseverance when they scored another try, just before the referee blew up for full time. The final score; Skerries 17 Gorey 29.
Whilst this wasn’t Gorey’s greatest winning margin, it was surely their finest performance so far this season, which is a testament to a very good Skerries team. Gorey’s discipline in defence, their communication and every players’ huge commitment to the tackle meant that there always only ever going to be one winner in this game.
It almost seems a shame to choose one player for Man of the Match after such a great team performance, as every player was outstanding in their own role, but for his incredible individual skill, as well as his team efforts, this week’s Man of the Match goes to Seán Wafer.
This win for Gorey sets up a mouth-watering final game next week as Gorey travel to Navan for the final game. Both teams sit at the top of the league table and both are the only two unbeaten teams in their qualifier group.
GOREY; 1. Niall Kenny, 2. Cormac Walsh, 3. Jack Ryan, 4. Joe Butler, 5. Tadhg O’Neill (capt), 6. Oran Fitzpatrick, 7. Alex Rothwell, 8. Frank Kavanagh, 9. Cillian Tomkins, 10. Cathal Stokes, 11. Eoin Canavan, 12. Adam Byrne, 13. Seán Wafer, 14. Andrew Cushen, 15. Brian O’Leary. SUBS; 16. Carl Johnston, 17. Cian Sullivan, 18. Rhys Slator, 19. Kyle Manning, 20. Gonzalo Sanchez, 21. Donough McGivern.