For the first time in thirty years and the second time in their history Gorey advanceD to the semi-final of the Provincial Towns Cup when they overcame  the reigning All Ireland Club Champions Ashbourne.

Gorey had reached the quarter final for the last five years but have struggled to make the next step to the semi-final.

This victory was no fluke as in previous matches between the sides little more than a score separated the teams.

The visitors  set out their stall early and from the first scrum  kept up a relentless tempo that they were to maintain throughout the match.

With the strong wind at their back they immediately put Ashbourne under pressure with some strong running leading to a number of line breaks.

The first score came on the eight minute as Ashbourne struggled to deal with the Gorey pressure and conceded a number of penalties. Gorey moved  the ball through the hands and a beautiful double skip pass from second row Daragh O'Leary put Rob Harrington in for the opening try.  James Nolan was just wide with the conversion attempt.

Gorey kept coming and phase after phase with some big carries from Killian Breen, Stephen Gardiner and Ciaran Allen causing havoc in the home defence.

Gorey should have added to their try count as they pummeled the home goal line but had to settle for another James Nolan penalty after again a number of infringements denied them a try.

Ashbourne settled and put some phases together but could not break down a resolute Gorey defence. They were awarded a penalty just to the right of the posts but Kennedy was just wide with his attempt.

From the restart Gorey kicked deep, Ashbourne failed to gather and from the scrum Gorey launched another attack. A number of phases later Gorey looked to have a certain try denied with a slap down only for the referee to call back for a previous penalty in front of the posts,  James Nolan tapPed over to extend Gorey’s lead to 11 - 0. Ashbourne were reduced to fourteen.

With minutes left in normal time Gorey were again back on the attack and were to extend their lead with another try.

Again Ashbourne’s discipline was to cost them. From the lineout Gorey moved the ball through the hands and when James Nolan crossed for a try, it was no more than the visitors deserved. Nolan was just wide with the conversion.

From the restart Ashbourne managed to latch on to a spilled ball and as Gorey scrambled to the defend Ashbourne were awarded a penalty, Kennedy made no mistake with this one, as the referee sounded the halftime whistle with Gorey 16 - 3 to the good.

The second half restarted with Ashbourne kicking deep, Gorey carried the ball well into the strong wind as kicking was futile.

Ashbourne were putting good phases together but again struggled to breakdown the visitors defence with a number of knock-ons  and penalties costing them dearly. Gorey weathered the storm and half way through the second half were still 16 - 3 to the good.

Ashbourne eventually managed to cross for a try after a number of phases stretched the Gorey defence for outhalf Crotty to go in under the posts. Kennedy added the conversion. 16 - 10 and Gorey were now going to have to dig deep.

Ashbourne threw the kitchen sink at Gorey for the remaining quarter but Gorey dealt with the threat retaining the ball for long periods  to eventually hear the sound of the final whistle to send them through to the semifinal for the first time in thirty years.

This victory was a tremendous team effort with James Nolan, Robert Harrington and Stephen Duke the pick of the backs.

But it was the pack that created the foundation with the outstanding back row of Killian Breen, Eddie Horan and Stanley Hadden to the fore with again Steven Gardiner picking up man of the match.

It doesn’t get any easier,  the last two rounds have seen Gorey travel away to Naas and Asbourne and now face All Ireland finalists, Division 1A League Champions and last years Towns Cup Champions Enniscorthy.

The game is fixed for Wexford RFC next Sunday the 24th of March kick off is 3pm.

GOREYC Allen E Badham K Browne S Gardiner D O Leary  K Breen E Horan S Hadden S Horan S Duke J Nolan   R Harrington   A Walshe J Naughton M Duke E Walsh D Bellanova L Molloy   L Stephens J Ahearne M Kemp W Rothwell T Jameson B Mason J Rothwell D O Neill


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