The much anticipated debut of Gorey’s U18s team took place this Sunday as a depleted team took to the field against Carlow RFC in the South East League. Much was expected of this talented panel, but with a number of players unavailable they started with just two substitutes on the bench for this opening game.

A fair sized crowd gathered in the late summer sunshine and Carlow would present a tough test following their win the previous week over Tullow RFC.

Gorey kicked off into the wind and the game started at a fast pace. It didn’t take long for Gorey to open their account, as their scrum-half Cillian Tomkins kicked a clever kick ahead to give Gorey a lineout just inside the Carlow half. From the lineout the ball was passed out to Gorey Hooker, Cormac Walsh who made a great solo run, beating several Carlow defenders for a fine individual try under posts. Full-back Oisín Fortune added the two points to put Gorey ahead 7 – 0 after just five minutes of play.

Carlow fought back hard from the kick-off and it needed some big tackle from Gorey’s defence to keep them at bay. Seán Wafer and Joe Butler made some crucial tackles to thwart Carlow’s progress.

Gorey’s set-pieces were working very well with an excellent lineout and a strong scrum, despite Carlow’s larger pack.

However, penalties were beginning to hamper Gorey’s progress and they found themselves defending on their own line with penalty advantage after penalty advantage giving Carlow the edge. It was only a matter of time, after some stout defending, until Carlow breached the Gorey defence for a try of their own. (Gorey 07 – Carlow 05).

Both teams played very well and both had to defend well, but it was a turnover ball by Gorey Prop Jack Ryan on the half-hour mark that released Seán Wafer, who had to escape the attention of two Carlow defenders before touching down for Gorey’s second try of the game. (Gorey 12 – Carlow 05)

Once again some very big hits were required to halt Carlow’s advances and Cormac Walsh was never far away or found wanting, putting in some crunching tackles.

But Gorey’s penalty count was to cost them once again, as they were reduced down to 14 men when a team yellow card sent Mark Boyle to the bin just before half-time.

And so, Gorey started the second half with just 14 men, but rather than simply try to contain the Carlow team, they took the game to them and in a replica of the start of the first half, Cormac Walsh broke free for another fine individual try leaving Carlow defenders floundering in his wake. (Gorey 17 – Carlow 05)

Moments later, Boyle returned to the fray to bring Gorey back to full strength.

Carlow fought back hard and made life difficult for Gorey. Some quick feet by Carlow’s centres resulted in a number of missed tackles by Gorey, but some last-minute defending saved what looked like certain try-scoring opportunities for Carlow.

Gorey made some substitutions on the 45-minute mark, with Cormac Walsh coming off injured after a fine performance and Jack Ryan being replaced after an excellent day’s scrummaging.

Carlow were beginning to put Gorey under pressure now and off a fine scrum they released their Outside Centre who evaded several Gorey tackles to score a well-deserved try. (Gorey 17 – Carlow 12)

The crowd were certainly getting value for money as the game ebbed and flowed. But there were still more scores to come. On the 50th minute Gorey were awarded a penalty within kicking distance of the Carlow posts, but rather than taking the points on offer to extend their lead, they opted to run the ball and quick hands and a storming run by Mark Boyle got him over for a try. The conversion was narrowly missed, as the wind took the ball away. (Gorey 22 – Carlow 12).

The ‘never say die’ attitude of Carlow had to be applauded as they came straight back at Gorey, pinning them on their own line. Two penalties to Gorey gave them ample opportunity to clear their lines, but they failed to do so and Carlow capitalised with another try to bring Gorey’s lead to a tenuous 3 points. (Gorey 22 – Carlow 19)

You daren’t take your eye off this game for one minute as there was always a possibility of another score from either side as they went hammer and tongs at it. But it was Gorey who went to the bank next, as rugby debutant Joe Burke, in his first ever rugby game, made a mesmerising run down the left wing, dancing past several Carlow defenders and looking like scoring a certain try, before a last-ditch try-saving tackle stopped him just short of the line. The ball was recycled by Gorey and made its way out to Oran Fitzpatrick, playing in an unfamiliar role as flanker, who burst through to score a great try. (Gorey 29 – Carlow 19).

Both sets of supporters could have gone home satisfied with a great feast of tries at this stage, but these two talented and determined teams had yet more to offer. Carlow dug deep and worked their way up the pitch, phase after phase, to add yet another try to their tally and once again leave just 3 points separating the sides. (Gorey 29 – Carlow 26)

The referee checked his watch several times and many in the Gorey crowd were praying to hear that final whistle, but in one last piece of excellence, with a penalty not too far from the Carlow posts and the possibility of an additional 3 points, Gorey again decided to run the ball. A quick tip by Mark Boyle and an exquisite pass out the back door to Cillian Tomkins, who stepped a Carlow defender before deftly releasing the ball to Seán Wafer for his second and Gorey’s 6th try to leave the final score Gorey 36 – Carlow 26.

Hats off to both these two strong teams. It would be hard to find a more entertaining game at any level in this sport.

Gorey were well worth their win and will be pleased with the result, but they’ll also be aware that there’s a lot of work still to do. But it’s early days with a long season ahead and there are still a number of players to return to this talented panel.


Jack Ryan

Cormac Walsh

Niall Kenny

Joe Butler

Tadhg O’Neill (Capt.)

Martin O’Loughlin

Oran Fitzpatrick

Mark Boyle

Cillian Tomkins

Gonzalo Sanchez

Andrew Cushen

Seán Wafer

Brian O’Leary

Joe Burke

Oisín Fortune


Cian Sullivan

Rhys Slater


Our Sponsors

Copyrights Gorey RFC 2022