Enniscorthy Guardian - - SPORT -

Ash­bourne 12, Gorey 33: Leinster com­pe­ti­tion rugby recom­menced af­ter the Christ­mas break with phase two of the Youths Premier League.

Gorey’s Un­der-18s trav­elled to Ash­bourne af­ter both teams suc­cess­fully pro­gressed from their qual­i­fy­ing groups in De­cem­ber.

Gorey en­tered the game as slight favourites af­ter their strong show­ing in the ear­lier phase, but Ash­bourne is al­ways a dif­fi­cult place to come away from with a win, and no­body knew how ei­ther team would cope af­ter the long Christ­mas lay-off.

Gorey started the strong­est, im­me­di­ately putting the home team un­der pres­sure, and within min­utes of the start they were threat­en­ing the Ash­bourne line.

The home team found them­selves with a line-out in their own ‘22, which Gorey cap­tain Tadhg O’Neill dis­rupted, and an ever-alert Mark Boyle pounced on for the open­ing try.

Birth­day boy Oisín For­tune made sure of the con­ver­sion to leave the vis­i­tors seven points ahead with just three min­utes on the clock.

Gorey piled on the pres­sure im­me­di­ately af­ter the re-start, with Alex Roth­well, Joe But­ler and Oran Fitz­partick putting in big hits on their op­po­site num­bers.

How­ever, as the half de­vel­oped, Ash­bourne fought back and be­gan to find trac­tion, as Gorey seemed to lose their shape. There were a num­ber of un­char­ac­ter­is­tic missed tack­les from Gorey and play­ers los­ing their po­si­tions, leav­ing big over­laps, which Ash­bourne failed to avail of on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions.

Ash­bourne could have found them­selves ahead sev­eral times, but for un­for­tu­nate knock-ons, as well as a cou­ple of su­perb cov­er­ing tack­les by Seán Wafer.

How­ever, it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore the home side avoided a num­ber of at­tempted tack­les and got a well-de­served try to nar­row the gap to 7-5.

Gorey looked a bit shell-shocked and Ash­bourne con­tin­ued to pile on the pres­sure, but with five min­utes left in the half, scrum-half Cil­lian Tomkins made a great in­ter­cep­tion and ran a good 50 me­tres head­ing for the Ash­bourne try line.

He was even­tu­ally caught by a quick-footed de­fender, who floored him, but not be­fore the most ex­quis­ite off-load by Tomkins to the closely chas­ing Mark Boyle who got over for his and Gorey’s sec­ond try. For­tune added the ex­tras to leave his team 14-5 ahead.

Ash­bourne con­tin­ued to make life dif­fi­cult for Gorey, but as the sec­onds counted down to half-time, the vis­i­tors were awarded a penalty in the op­po­si­tion ’22.

It looked like out-half Cathal Stokes would kick for touch, but at the last minute he tapped and passed to Mark Boyle, who stormed over for his third try.

The con­ver­sion was nar­rowly missed and was fol­lowed im­me­di­ately by the ref­eree’s whis­tle for half-time to see the vis­i­tors go in with a 19-5 ad­van­tage.

The sec­ond-half kicked off with Gorey once again the stronger starters, and it wasn’t long be­fore hooker Cor­mac Walsh made one of his sig­na­ture barn­storm­ing runs.

He beat sev­eral de­fend­ers be­fore pass­ing to Seán Wafer, who made good ground be­fore fi­nally pass­ing to the in-form Boyle to score yet again. For­tune’s con­ver­sion ex­tended Gorey’s lead to 26-5.

Ash­bourne wouldn’t lie down and con­tin­ued to present prob­lems for Gorey. Some fur­ther last-minute tack­les from Seán Wafer foiled what looked like cer­tain try-scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for the home team.

But Ash­bourne’s per­sis­tence paid off when their out­side cen­tre dodged and weaved to avoid would-be tack­les and went through for a well-worked try di­rectly un­der the posts. The easy con­ver­sion im­proved the score­line for the home team to 26-12.

Gorey’s strong de­fence en­sured there would be no fur­ther breaches by Ash­bourne, but there was to be one more try for the lead­ers, as prop Niall Kenny made great yards, beat­ing sev­eral de­fend­ers be­fore pass­ing to Joe But­ler for the last try of the game.

Once again, For­tune made sure of the con­ver­sion to leave the fi­nal score 33-12 in Gorey’s favour.

This was a good win for Gorey, but the score­line pos­si­bly flat­tered them a lit­tle. They can be very happy with their work­man­like per­for­mance and they stuck to the task right up un­til the fi­nal whis­tle.

Some good per­for­mances were seen all round, in­clud­ing from re­place­ments Cian Kenny and Martin O’Lough­lin, but the man of the match for his out­stand­ing in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance goes to Mark Boyle.

Next Satur­day, Jan­uary 12, Gorey wel­come Naas to Clonat­tin, with the vis­i­tors sit­ting just one point be­low the Wex­ford men, af­ter their crush­ing 34-0 home win over En­nis­cor­thy.

Gorey: Niall Kenny, Cor­mac Walsh, Jack Ryan, Joe But­ler, Tadhg O’Neill (capt.), Frank Ka­vanagh, Alex Roth­well, Mark Boyle, Cil­lian Tomkins, Cathal Stokes, Oran Fitz­patrick, Adam Byrne, Seán Wafer, Brian O’Leary, Oisín For­tune. Subs. - Martin O’Lough­lin, Rhys Sla­tor, Cian Kenny, Robert Mur­phy.

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