GOREY 33 ASHBOURNE 12
Leinster competition rugby recommenced after the Christmas break with phase two of the Youth’s Premier League and Gorey’s under 18’s travelled to Ashbourne after both teams successfully progressed from their qualifying groups in December.
Gorey entered the game as slight favourites after their strong showing in the earlier phase, but Ashbourne is always a difficult place to try come away with a win and nobody knew how either team would cope after the long Christmas layoff.
It was Gorey who started the strongest, immediately putting the home team under pressure and within minutes of the start they were threatening the Ashbourne line.
The home team found themselves with a lineout in their own 22, which Gorey captain Tadhg O’Neill disrupted and an ever-alert Mark Boyle pounced on for the opening try. Birthday-boy Oisín Fortune made sure of the conversion to leave the visitors 7 points ahead with just three minutes on the clock.
Gorey piled on the pressure immediately after the restart with Alex Rothwell, Joe Butler and Oran Fitzpartick putting in big hits on their opposite numbers. However, as the half developed, Ashbourne fought back and began to find traction, as Gorey seemed to lose their shape. There were several uncharacteristic missed tackles from Gorey and players losing their positions, leaving big overlaps, which Ashbourne failed to capitalise on several occasions. Ashbourne could have found themselves ahead several times, but for unfortunate knock-ons, as well as a couple of superb covering tackles by Gorey’s Seán Wafer.
However, it was only a matter of time before the home side avoided several attempted tackles and got a well-deserved try. (Ashbourne 5 Gorey 7)
Gorey looked a bit shell-shocked and Ashbourne continued to pile on the pressure, but with five minutes left in the half, Gorey’s scrum half Cillian Tomkins made a great interception and ran a good 50 metres heading for the Ashbourne tryline. He was eventually caught by a quick-footed Ashbourne defender, who floored him, but not before Tomkins effected the most exquisite offload to the closely chasing Mark Boyle who got over for his and Gorey’s second try of the game. Fortune added the extras to leave it Ashbourne 5 Gorey 14.
Ashbourne continued to make life difficult for Gorey, but as the seconds counted down to half time, Gorey were awarded a penalty in Ashbourne’s 22, which it looked like outhalf Cathal Stokes would kick for touch, but at the last minute he tapped and passed to Mark Boyle, who stormed over for his third try of the game. The conversion was narrowly missed and was followed immediately by the referee’s whistle for half time to see the visitors go in with a 5 – 19 advantage.
Gorey could probably count themselves lucky to going in a half time with such a healthy lead, but if the first half was anything to go by, Ashbourne were not a team to sit back and leave the spoils to Gorey.
The second half kicked-off with Gorey once again the stronger starters and it wasn’t long before Gorey Hooker Cormac Walsh made one of his signature barnstorming runs. He beat several defenders before passing to Seán Wafer, who made good ground before finally passing to the in-form Boyle to score yet again. Fortune’s conversion extended Gorey’s lead to 05 – 26.
Ashbourne wouldn’t lie down and continued to present problems for Gorey. Some further last-minute tackles from Seán Wafer foiled what looked like certain try-scoring opportunities for the home team.
But Ashbourne’s persistence paid off when their outside centre dodged and weaved to avoid would-be tackles and went through for a well-worked try directly under the posts. The easy conversion improved the scoreline for the home team to 12 – 26.
Gorey’s strong defence ensured there would be no further breaches by Ashbourne, but there was to be one more try for Gorey, as Gorey Prop, Niall Kenny made great yards, beating several Ashbourne defenders before passing to Joe Butler for the last score of the game. Once again, Fortune made sure of the conversion to leave the final score Ashbourne 12 Gorey 33.
This was a good win for Gorey, but the scoreline possibly flattered them a little. They can be very happy with their workmanlike performance and they stuck to the task right up until the final whistle. Some good performances all round, including from replacements Cian Kenny and Martin O’Loughlin, but the Man of the Match for his outstanding individual performance goes to Mark Boyle.
GOREY; 1. Niall Kenny, 2. Cormac Walsh, 3. Jack Ryan, 4. Joe Butler, 5. Tadhg O’Neill (capt), 6. Frank Kavanagh, 7. Alex Rothwell, 8. Mark Boyle, 9. Cillian Tomkins, 10. Cathal Stokes, 11. Oran Fitzpatrick, 12. Adam Byrne, 13. Seán Wafer, 14. Brian O’Leary, 15. Oisín Fortune. SUBS; 16. Martin O’Loughlin, 17. Rhys Slator, 18. Cian Kenny, 19. Robert Murphy.
Next Saturday, January 12th, Gorey welcome Naas to Clonattin, who are sitting just one point below the Wexford men, after their crushing 34 – 0 home win over Enniscorthy today.
GOREY 33 ASHBOURNE 12