Gorey RFC 15
Ashbourne RFC 22
For the second week in a row, Gorey had to play second fiddle to Ashbourne as the league leaders and three times All Ireland Cup Champions showed all their experience to hang on for a deserved win in Clonattin on Saturday last.
With just seven points between the teams and minutes left on the clock Gorey camped on the visitor’s line, but try as they might they could not find away over to force extra time.
The first quarter was all action as the teams gave no quarter with massive hits from both. It was Gorey who had shaded the territory but a number of turnovers in the red zone cost them dearly. They did manage to score first when Ashbourne were penalised. Mark Kehoe raised the flag. It was a short-lived lead as Gorey left a gaping hole in their defence for Jake Wall to race through. The next few phases saw his brother Alan cross for a try. Gavin Kennedy added the conversion.
Gorey kept pounding away but a stubborn Ashbourne defence was proving hard to break down. On 30 minutes Ashbourne worked their way up the field and the visitors stretched their lead with a Gavin Kennedy penalty. The last 10 minutes was again closely fought with neither team able to find a gap as the half came to an end.
With a score between the teams, Gorey needed a good start on the resumption but it was Ashbourne who were to strike first. Gorey gave away early territory and found themselves on the back foot. Seven minutes in and a number of phases later Ashbourne touched down for a vital score when Andy Whittaker finished off a forward effort. Kennedy was just wide with the conversion to leave the score at 15 – 3.
From the restart, Gorey got some territory and big carries from the pack saw them again at the visitors line, but somehow Ashbourne got their hands on the ball. But as they went to clear their line Steven Gardiner blocked down for Joe Naughton to gather and go over for a try. David Shannon was just wide with the conversion.
Another period of nip and tuck saw both teams carry hard. But a speculative kick downfield caused a mix up in the Gorey defence with Joe Naughton yellow carded when he was deemed to play the ball on the ground. Ashbourne were not long in capitalising, as they kept the pressure on the Gorey line, they moved the ball wide and Arron McLoughlin crossed for a try with Kennedy adding the conversion to leave the score at 22 – 8.
But with five minutes to go and 22 – 8 down, Gorey somehow got within striking distance. From the restart, a turnover by Killian Breen earned Gorey a penalty. Dave Shannon kicked to the corner. Gorey mauled for the line for Kevin Browne to spin over for a try. Shannon converted to leave a one-score game.
Three minutes left and Ashbourne were now shaky and from the restart Gorey were not long in getting back in the visitors 22. Again phase after phase saw Gorey inch towards the line as they pounded away, Ashbourne again got hands on the ball and a turnover saw them kick the ball out of play to advance to the semi-final of the All Ireland Cup.
On the day, Gorey can have no complaints as the experienced Ashbourne side deserved the win. But they will also know that if they can learn from these close games and eliminate their errors they will turn the corner and will have better days ahead.
Next week Gorey return to league duty with an away trip to Bective Rangers. Kick off in Donnybrook is 2.30pm.
W. Rothwell, L. Molloy, K. Browne, D. O’Leary, T. Jameson, S. Gardiner Capt, E. Walsh, B. Horan, D. McGrath, M. Kehoe, F. Donnelly, A. Walsh, F. O’Loughlin, D. Shannon, M. Duke, A. Davies, K. Breen, B. Mason, B. O’Connor, J. Naughton, C. Power.