GOREY U18s MARCH ON TO PREMIER LEAGUE FINAL   10/03/2019

GOREY U18s MARCH ON TO PREMIER LEAGUE FINAL

Gorey’s U18s welcomed Naas to a very windy Clonattin on Saturday for the semi-final of the Leinster Premier League.

For once this season Gorey had a full squad available to them with several players returning from injuries in the past few weeks, giving the coaches a tricky but welcome problem in choosing a starting fifteen players.

Because of the tight timeline, with the final to be played a week later on St.Patrick’s Day, this would be “Result On The Day” meaning that the first score could be crucial in the event of a drawn game. With that in mind, Gorey, having won the toss, chose to start with the strong wind at their backs.

However the swirling wind would cause problems for both sides, as Gorey’s kick-off failed to make the required ten metres and the visitors were awarded a scrum to get things under way.

It was Gorey who won the opening exchanges with strong tackling by Frank Kavanagh, Adam Byrne and Robert Murphy stifling any advances by Naas. The Kildare men found themselves pinned in their own 22 with seemingly no way to break Gorey’s stout defence. Gorey steadily advanced on the Naas line and when the Naas full-back tried to kick themselves out of danger from inside his own in-goal area, the strong wind carried the ball back from where it was kicked and it was all he could do to scramble and touch it down himself, giving Gorey a 5m scrum.

From this scrum, Gorey’s No. 8, Mark Boyle picked up the ball and headed straight for the line, carrying several defenders along with him before touching down for the opening score of the game. Oisín Fortune added the conversion to leave the score; Gorey 7 Naas 0 with just 15 minutes gone.

Gorey continued to dominate both possession and territory, but were finding it hard to convert this dominance into points on the scoreboard. To their credit, Naas defended well and put in a huge work-rate to repel Gorey attacks time after time.

Gorey’s Cathal Stokes kicked a long ball downfield, which was carried along by the strong wind and looked like it was going to go dead, but fortunately bobbled off the corner flag for a lineout.

Lineouts had been proving difficult for both sides because of the conditions and this one proved no different, as Naas failed to deal with the ball. The Gorey pack gathered and mauled the ball across the Nass line with Boyle again touching down for his and Gorey’s second try of the game. Most side-line supporters assumed that any conversion in this howling wind would be outside even the best kicker’s capabilities, but Oisín Fortune proved them wrong when he judged the wind perfectly and floated the ball between the posts. (Gorey 14 Naas 0)

However, Naas weren’t going to lie down and when Gorey knocked-on from the restart kick they seized their chance. From the resulting scrum the ball was fed out to Naas Centre Jamie Osborne who proved a slippery customer shifting several tackles before going over under the posts to open the visitors’ account.

Naas had one of their second rows sin-binned for persistent infringing after half an hour, but Gorey couldn’t capitalise on their one-man advantage and the half ended with a closer scoreline than the home side would have liked at Gorey 14 Naas 07.

The second half started with the wind getting even stronger than the first. The next score would be crucial and against the strong wind it was Gorey who once again started the strongest.

Within minutes of the restart, Gorey had Naas pinned on their own line as they sent wave after wave of attack. Eventually Gorey’s Cormac Walsh got over the line for what looked like well-deserved try for the talented hooker, but it was judged to have been held-up.

Naas managed to clear their lines after the resultant scrum, but it wasn’t long before Walsh was back knocking on the door and with just twelve minutes of the second half gone, he touched down in the corner to extend Gorey’s lead to 19 – 7.

Naas continued to pose problems for Gorey and they used the wind to their advantage, kicking for territory over and over again. But Gorey’s backline dealt confidently with each long ball they received, with Brian O’Leary, Seán Wafer and Oisín Fortune taking the play back up into the visitors half, time and time again.

Naas had another player sin-binned as they tried desperately to stop further Gorey advances. And when Gorey were awarded a penalty in front of the Naas posts they decided to take the easy three points, to put three scores between the teams at 22 – 7.

Naas seemed to have cancelled out this score almost immediately afterwards, when their winger ran onto a ball with no one between him and a certain try, but unfortunately for the visitors he knocked-on just as he crossed the line.

Gorey made some changes bringing some strong players off the bench. Martin O’Loughlin and Cian Kenny immediately made an impact. But Naas were still pushing hard and aided by the strong wind at their backs, they drove Gorey back. With one hour of the game gone they were eventually rewarded when they got over in the corner for their second try of the day to close the gap to just ten points at 22 – 12.

Gorey lost a bit of their shape at this stage and there was some poor decision-making, as they tried unsuccessfully to kick into the strong wind, giving away possession time and again, when really they just needed to hang on to the ball.

At the same time Naas were beginning to spread the ball and stretch Gorey’s defensive line.

As the clock ticked down, the referee called “last play” and Naas launched one final attack. Once again their talented Centre, Osborne, slipped by several defenders to go over for a fine individual try. It was no more than Naas deserved, but ultimately too little too late for the visitors as Gorey progressed to the final with a scoreline of 22 - 17.

This was a good win for Gorey against a talented Naas side in what were very testing conditions. Gorey defended well, but will have to tighten up on some aspects of their game if they are to prevail in next week’s final against Navan. The two sides met each other in the qualifying stages of this competition with Navan coming out victorious with the slimmest of margins, beating a depleted Gorey side in Navan with an 8 – 7 scoreline.

There were lots of very good performances from Gorey players, but the Man of the Match goes to Frank Kavanagh for his relentless tackling in defence and strong attacking runs.

GOREY

01. Niall Kenny
02. Cormac Walsh
03. Jack Ryan
04. Joe Butler
05. Tadhg O’Neill (Capt.)
06. Robert Murphy
07. Frank Kavanagh
08. Mark Boyle
09. Cillian Tomkins
10. Cathal Stokes
11. Brian O’Leary
12. Adam Byrne
13. Seán Wafer
14. Oran Fitzpatrick
15. Oisín Fortune
Subs
16. Martin O’Loughlin
17. Cian Kenny
18. Alex Rothwell
19. Carl Johnston
20. Gonzalo Sanchez
21. Eoin Canavan
22. Donough McGivern
23. Cian Sullivan





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