Gorey Rugby: The Gorey Under-14s headed to Tullow for their first game of 2017, a Phase 2 Premier A fixture.
A slow start by the visitors resulted in Tullow being camped in Gorey's half and, following some poor tackling, the hosts registered the first try which was not converted.
This jolted Gorey into action and gradually they got the upper hand and, following a pass from George Hadden, Brian Cushe burst through the Tullow defence to score, with Lee Cushe converting, bringing the score to 7-5 in their favour.
Gorey then spent a few minutes hammering the Tullow line, and it looked like a further score was coming, but somehow the ball was turned over and Tullow went the length of the pitch to score under the posts for a 12-7 lead.
But again Gorey came back at Tullow and a clever pass from Jack Higgins released Brian Cushe to go over, with Lee again adding the extras, leaving Gorey ahead at half-time 14-12.
Gorey upped their performance considerably in the second-half and were first to get on the scoreboard with a fine try by George Hadden. And with the score then at 19-12, it seemed they then might pull away but sloppy defence again allowed Tullow to pull the score back to 19 all, and it looked like it was going to be a dogfight to the finish.
But the Gorey pack finally managed to get the upper hand and, following a good passage of play, Evan Byrne crashed over for a further try.
As the game entered the final minutes, good handling by both backs and forwards resulted in Michal Kruczek stretching the score to 29-19 which is how it all ended.
Gorey had some strong performances from Jack Higgins, John Milne, Brian and Lee Cushe in the backs, and in the pack the best were Ewan Stephens, George Hadden and our man of the match, Seán Sawyer, who seemed to be everywhere and gave everything he had from first to final whistle. The lads are away to Boyne next weekend.
Team: S. Guilfoyle, D. Fitzpatrick, E. Byrne, R. Tubritt, E. McCrea, S. Sawyer, G. Hadden, E. Stephens, J. Higgins, L. Cushe, T. Baxter, J. Milne, M. Kruczek, B. Cushe, R. O'Loughlin, A. McNeill, J. Curley, A. Cleary, P. Kinsella, C. Byrne, S. Campbell-Carty, R. Arnold.
The Gorey Under-15s played their final match of the year away to New Ross, a location where it's fair to say that in past encounters it has never been a happy hunting ground for them.
As the match kicked off Gorey were straight on the attack and in the first frantic stages of the opening half, Gavin Murray touched down, with the try converted by Kevin Budeanu.
From that moment on Gorey settled in to a very disciplined team performance, making tackles, hitting rucks with energy and intensity. Gorey had lots of ball and in fairness could have scored a few more, but a slippery wet ball caused problems for both sides.
A converted try from Donnacha Cooke, plus a penalty kick, resulted in Gorey finishing the first-half 17 points up.
From the start of the second-half New Ross tried to apply the pressure on the visitors, but a committed, determined and solid defence held firm.
Gorey then countered with a try from Paddy Darcy. New Ross tried to exert pressure but there was no backward steps from Gorey and a final try, from Hugh O'Brien, sealed an emphatic win for the away team with the final score being 27-0.
Gorey: G. Murray (1), J. Tallon (capt.), P. Doyle, S. Timmons, O. Austin, P. Darcy (1), G. Lande, D. Cooke (1), G. Slattery, H. O'Brien (1), S. O'Hagan, J. Colclough, C. Popplewell, L. Noblett, K. Budeanu. Subs. - S. Millar, S. Doran, J. Kinsella (used), also T. Montague, O. O'Hagan.
The first game of the new year for the Gorey Under-15s was against Kilkenny at home. The last match-up between the two teams was a tight affair, to the team members were expecting the same.
Gorey took the ball into contact from the kick-off, with the forwards taking the ball forward and making ground.
Before long the ball was grounded by Kyle McLaughlin, just back from injury, and the try was converted by full-back Kevin Budeanu.
The game continued at a frantic pace until Kilkenny broke through a momentary gap in the Gorey defence and scored. This try woke the lads up and whilst Kilkenny attempted the conversion, Gorey gathered themselves and re-started the game.
Kilkenny with their tails up pushed forward looking for gaps but found nothing but hard-tackling, determined defenders. Against the run of the game, Gorey scored again thanks to Kevin Budeanu.
With half-time approaching Gorey scored again when prop forward Gavin Murray got over the whitewash with the first of his two tries.
After the break, full of confidence and after a number of Kilkenny mistakes, possession and aggressive ball carries allowed Liam Bates to score his first try in Gorey colours.
The visitors, whilst still dangerous in attack, were getting no advantage. Gorey were in complete control and two more tries were scored by Alex Simpson and Lee Noblett.
This was a solid team performance and an excellent result against a very good team. A big well done to all the boys.
Gorey: G. Murray (two), O. O'Hagan, P. Doyle, Kyle Mclaughlin (one), L. Bates (one), J. Tallon (capt), D. Cooke, O. Austin, H. O'Brien, G. Lande, C. Popplewell, J. Colclough, S. O'Hagan, L. Noblett (one), K. Budeanu (one). Subs. - S. Millar, P. Darcy, A. Simpson, S. Doran (all used), J. Kinsella, J.J. O'Neill, T. Montague.
A special mention goes to Liam Bates on his first try for the Under-15s. Our next match is next week against Wexford at home, and supporters are always welcome.
A crisp and sharp Sunday morning in Clonattin greeted a Gorey Under-17 team which has had a strong winning streak of late.
Although a friendly match, this Gorey team set out to win and, under the captaincy of Ryan Gibney, they had the majority of the opening possession and territory.
A slippy ball resulted in many handling errors for both teams, but Gorey finally cracked a resilient Arklow defence after 20 minutes when hooker Toby Falconer slipped through for the opening try which was easily converted by out-half Henry Kennedy.
Kennedy added the second Gorey try five minutes later with some eye-catching back line play started by fast and accurate ball from Mark Doyle, leading to winger Andrew Cushen getting the number 10 through.
However, Arklow responded well and scored their own opener shortly afterwards, leaving the half-time score at 12-5.
The second-half saw Arklow come out stronger and the territory and possession was much more evenly split. However, more strong centre work, particularly by Greg Bolger and Adam Byrne, saw a third Gorey try scored by forward Joe Butler.
Once more, Arklow responded well and it wasn't long before they had a second try on the board, closing the gap to 17-10 in favour of Gorey.
Some strong passages of Gorey forward play followed with strong breakdown play from Niall Kenny and Kyle Donnelly, with number 8 Ryan Gibney turning over Arklow possession in the rucks on several occasions.
This gave Gorey the edge and a final try was scored by replacement full-back Seán Wafer, with the conversion to come from Kennedy. Arklow rounded off the scoring with a try under the posts to leave the final score at 24-15 to Gorey.
Injuries during the game meant some players had to line out in new positions, and Cian Kenny, Ryan Gibney and Ryan Kinsella showed their range of abilities in slotting in where needed.
The Gorey second row, Thomas Devereux, was unlucky not to break the Arklow line twice, and the wet ball probably kept the scoreboard quieter than it might otherwise have been.
Dynamic Gorey player Cormac Walsh suffered a shoulder injury that required hospitalisation early in the game, and the team wish him a speedy recovery.
Although a strong Gorey team overall, newer players Thomas Devereux and Andrew Cushen stood out on a skilful side. The Arklow team were unlucky not to score again and their back row and centres in particular showed great strength and ability.
It was time to dust off the Christmas cobwebs and get back down to business as Gorey's Under-17s welcomed North Kildare to Clonattin to continue their campaign in Leinster League's Premier Division.
Perfect conditions welcomed both teams with not a hint of wind and soft conditions underfoot.
Gorey started off well, playing the majority of the opening phases in North Kildare's half, and while the visitors found it hard to get into the opposition's territory, they weren't conceding any points as they defended well. Gorey couldn't break down their defence and gave away a number of penalties to relieve the pressure on the visitors.
North Kildare's large pack caused problems for Gorey in the scrum and they managed to turn over possession on several occasions in the rucks.
With 20 minutes gone Gorey were awarded a penalty just outside the '22, but the ball sailed just wide of the posts.
Gorey's out-half, Mark Kehoe, began to direct matters and their talented backs came more into the game. Frank Kavanagh stole a ball from a North Kildare ruck and forced an infringement which resulted in a Gorey scrum.
From the back of this scrum the ball was delivered to full-back Henry Kennedy who came screaming like a steam train demanding the ball. North Kildare didn't have time to react, as Kennedy sliced through the entire defence to place the ball under the posts for the first try. He then converted to leave the home team in the lead (7-0).
However, North Kildare didn't let their heads drop and they put Gorey under pressure for the remainder of the half.
Their gifted out-half caused many problems and they looked like equalling the scoreline on a number of occasions, but stout Gorey defence, and a couple of try-saving tackles from Mark Kehoe and Mark Boyle, denied them.
Gorey were happy to kick the ball into enemy territory to relieve the pressure until the referee finally blew up for the break.
The second-half kicked off with the visitors continuing the pressure on Gorey. As the home side desperately defended, they lost their usual composure and got dragged in, leaving the visitors with a four-man overlap out wide and an easy run-in for their first try (7-7).
It was clear the Gorey needed to up their game quickly before this strong North Kildare team ran them ragged.
And 15 minutes into the half they began to string a number of passes together and stretch North Kildare's defensive line. It was from one of these moves that the ball was spread at speed from out-half Mark Kehoe, to centre Seán Wafer and on to second row Tadhg O'Neill, who in turn fed it out to his fellow second-rower Cian Kenny to squeeze in to the corner for Gorey's second try.
Henry Kennedy's conversion was a thing of beauty that any international kicker would have been proud of (14-7).
Gorey now seemed to have found their rhythm and they began to thread more and more passes together, which the visitors were struggling to cope with. With 25 minutes of the second-half gone, replacement full-back Oisín Fortune gathered a long ball that had been kicked upfield by North Kildare.
He made a great run, breaking several tackles before passing out to Wafer and on to Greg Bolger who passed back to Wafer who made sure of his try (19-7).
With just minutes left, Mark Kehoe fed the ball from the base of a ruck in North Kildare's '22 to the hurtling Frank Kavanagh in what seemed like a carbon copy of Gorey's first try, and it was clear for all to see that nobody was going to stop this particular bullet train (24-7).
While Gorey will be happy to come away with another win against a very strong North Kildare team to keep their unbeaten run in place, they will be very much aware that there is much room for improvement.
Hopefully the errors can be put down to a bit of ring-rustiness after the long Christmas break, but they will definitely have to up their game for the much-anticipated clash against near rivals Wicklow on Saturday.
Gorey: Niall Kenny, Toby Falconer, Kyle Donnelly, Cian Kenny, Tadhg O'Neill, Ryan Gibney, Darragh Canavan, Frank Kavanagh, Cillian Tomkins, Mark Kehoe, Ryan Kinsella, Mark Boyle, Seán Wafer (capt.), Flynn Donnelly, Henry Kennedy. Subs. - Cian Sullivan, Jack Ryan, Alex Rothwell, Thomas Devereux, Mark Doyle, Greg Bolger, Adam Byrne, Oisín Fortune.