The postponed final U18s Leinster Premier League, game before the knockout stages, finally took place on Saturday when Gorey travelled to Wexford Wanderers rugby club.

This was a crucial game for Gorey. Following their defeat to Portlaoise the previous week, they were left needing to take away at least a point in order to avoid crashing out of the league. While Wexford were already qualified for a semi-final place, the only difference the result would mean for them was whether they had a home or away semi-final fixture.

The weather had taken a distinct turn for the worse after the spring sunshine of the previous days and Gorey opted to play with a very strong wind at their backs for the first half.

The visitors started strong with Gorey flanker Frank Kavanagh laying down a marker with some big hits in the opening minutes. Gorey’s usual hooker was unavailable on the day and the strong wind made lineouts a lottery for both sides.

It was from such a lineout that the first score came, as Gorey prop Jack Ryan gathered an overthrown lineout and made good ground before passing to Mark Boyle. Boyle dodged several defenders before releasing the ball to winger Brian O’Leary, who despite having a man outside him, had the confidence to go it alone and done extremely well to score for Gorey. In spite of the swirling wind, Oisín Fortune slotted over the conversion to leave the score; Wexford 0 – Gorey 7 after just eight minutes.

Gorey continued to pile on the pressure with huge hits from the likes of Alex Rothwell, Martin O’Loughlin and Joe Butler. Wexford tried gallantly to break the line, but Gorey’s defence was water-tight.

On the 15-minute mark, Gorey’s Mark Boyle intercepted a pass and ran half the pitch to add his name to the scoresheet, avoiding the attention of the Wexford full-back, before placing the ball directly under the posts. (Wexford 0 – Gorey 14)

Boyle also made a number of crucial turnovers. Seán Wafer chased a long ball for what looked like a certain try but as he dived over the line he was judged to have knocked-on.  And so the half finished with Gorey leading 0 – 14.

The wind picked up even more for the start of the second half and was joined by a torrential downpour, which lasted for the duration of the half, making life even more difficult for the players.

It was Gorey who once again started the strongest, pinning Wexford on their line. Wexford eventually managed to repel the attack and used the strong wind to their advantage as they kicked themselves out of danger.

Frank Kavanagh turned over a ball in a ruck in Wexford’s half and passed to Joe Butler who burst through several defenders. The ball next came out to recently returned scrum-half Cillian Tomkins, who was having a great game. Tomkins passed out to the oncoming Mark Boyle who was taken out illegally and the referee played advantage to Gorey. Once again, Wexford defended well and managed to stop Gorey’s attack by kicking the ball 50 metres down the pitch.

Niall Kenny and Adam Byrne made some crunching tackles to stop would-be attacks in their stride.

Finally after a quarter of an hour of the second half Gorey managed to break the home side’s defence when the recently introduced Robert Murphy made a great run. He passed out to Joe Butler, who shook off several tackles before delivering the ball to Jack Ryan, who never looked like being stopped at such close range. The conversion looked an impossible task in the now howling wind and rain, but Oisín Fortune sent the ball over like a guided missile. (Wexford 0 – Gorey 21)

Gorey introduced some fresh legs in the second half making several replacements, all of whom stepped up to the mark to strengthen the team.

As the clock ticked down, Wexford managed to take a quick tap-and-go from a penalty, catching Gorey off-guard and the nippy Wexford winger got over in the corner for a consolation try.

The final score; Wexford 05 – Gorey 21

This was an exceptional team performance from Gorey, which demonstrates that with a full panel available to them and with this kind of attitude and commitment, this Gorey team are the match for any team.

There were some outstanding performances right across the team today, but for his huge work rate the Man of the Match goes to Jack Ryan who emptied the tank and gave everything during the game.

The win gives Gorey a home semi-final next Saturday (9th March) against Naas.


01. Martin O’Loughlin

02. Niall Kenny

03. Jack Ryan

04. Joe Butler

05. Tadhg O’Neill (Capt.)

06. Frank Kavanagh

07. Alex Rothwell

08. Mark Boyle

09. Cillian Tomkins

10. Cathal Stokes

11. Oran Fitzpatrick

12. Adam Byrne

13. Seán Wafer

14. Brian O’Leary

15. Oisín Fortune


16. Cian Kenny

17. Robert Murphy

18. Rhys Slator

19. Carl Johnston

20. Gonzalo Sanchez

21. Eoin Canavan

22. Donough McGivern

23. Cian Sullivan


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