Gorey crush table-toppers
Gorey captured the imagination of home supporters with a rampant display as they dismantled leaders Enniscorthy in this crucial top of the table Leinster League Division 1A game before a huge crowd at Clonattin on Saturday.
Gorey 26 Enniscorthy 6
This was an evening that was all about Gorey. Trailing the leaders, Enniscorthy, by ten points, they needed a bonus point victory to keep their title aspirations alive, while for the visitors, a victory would have settled the destination of the trophy as it would have put them into an unassailable lead.
Given their passion, drive and powerful forward play, along with a back line which was not prepared to yield an inch in the tackle, Gorey were determined to end this game harbouring no regrets.
They planned their charge from the kick-off, never allowing Enniscorthy to relax, powering into the scrums and rucks and controlling the line-outs, while the crunching tackling both from the pack and back line saw their opponents driven back with some massive early hits, which set the tone for the remainder of the game.
It all became more frustrating for Enniscoorthy as Gorey's Adrian Copeland and Stephen Gardiner controlled the line-outs, cleaning out their own throw, while also succeeding in taking five of their opponents' deliveries in crucial areas of the pitch, both in defence and attack.
This coupled with a rampaging back row trio of William Earle, team captain John Paul Redmond and Jordan Ahern meant they controlled possession, with their driving play contributing so much to this crucial result.
As the game wore on it became more and more frustrating for Enniscorthy. The form team of the season travelled the short journey up the road no doubt confident of ensuring the league title would be that little closer to hand, but they quickly realised that no matter what they tried, the Gorey intent to keep their line intact was going to lead to a frustrating evening. Really the Cathedral town side were never going to repeat their earlier victory when the sides met on the Ross Road.
This needed to be a try-fest for Gorey, and while they duly obliged they still had to wait until the 17th minute to open their account. As the crowd sat back and watched, both sides teased each other with testing high kicks through the opening ten minutes. And Gorey withstood an early Enniscorthy barrage before clearing their lines to mount a series of attacks.
Having controlled possession outside their opponents' '22, moving the ball along the back line, out-half Stephen Duke grubber kicked through to bring them right up to line, forcing a five-metre scrum. The Gorey pack got on a huge drive with referee Helen Kelly penalising the opposing pack for collapsing the scrum and awarding a penalty try, to which Duke added the conversion to make it 7-0.
Now it was all about if Enniscorthy could respond. Having forced Gorey back inside their own 22-metre line, Adrian Copeland came to his side's rescue when claiming the visitors' throw with a huge catch, enabling his side to lift the siege. Copeland's effort inspired his team as they increased their lead after 32 minutes.
Having rucked a fast, quality ball, scrum-half Gareth Bater fed Duke whose beautiful crossfield kick saw winger Andrew Walsh win the race for the touchdown. Duke was narrowly wide with the conversion attempt from just five metres off the touchline, but Gorey now led 12-0.
Enniscorthy's response was positive as they camped on the home side's line in the lead-up to the break. Several drives by the pack were held up just short before a penalty ensued which Ivan Poole kicked to make it 12-3 at the interval.
Now with the aid of the breeze it was a case of could Enniscorthy bolster their second-half challenge? Ivan Poole went long with the re-start, enabling his side to lay siege to the Gorey line.
There was a whirlwind of Enniscorthy attacks as the pack drove towards the line, but with John Paul Redmond and Willie Earle getting in some crucial tackles they were unable to garner that much-needed try.
Having failed to interrupt the Gorey pattern of play, the home side continued to grow in confidence. After 52 minutes they chose to kick for the corner with Duke ensuring a five-metre line-out. Copeland won a clean catch, leading to the pack getting motoring again, and following several drives which had been held up just on the line, John Paul Redmond went low at the side of the ruck to force his way over for a crucial try that Duke converted. This gave his side a 19-3 lead, with the home support thoroughly enjoying this massive effort.
On 59 minutes an Ivan Poole penalty made it 19-6, but in the period which followed Enniscorthy were unable to capitalise on possession, as few gaps appeared in the Gorey defensive set-up.
The score that drew the biggest cheer on the night arrived in the 62nd minute. The pack were pressuring the Enniscorthy line, and following several rucks, a quick ball was fed to scrum-half Gareth Bater who somehow managed to avoid several tackles to squeeze his way over the line.
With Duke adding the conversion it made it 26-6. It was fitting that Bater got in on the try-scoring act for he gave a man of the match performance from the base of the scrum.
There was to be no fairytale finish for Enniscorthy as despite camping on the Gorey line for the closing ten minutes they were left chasing the game, unable to burrow a way over for a try which could possibly have lifted their game had it arrived. However, the evening belonged to Gorey.
Gorey: Shane O'Leary; Clement Power (Seán Byrne, 76), Eoin Walsh, Matt Bater, Andrew Walsh; Stephen Duke, Gareth Bater; Richard Deering (Ciarán Allen, 56), Fergal Bolger (Barry O'Connor, 70), Darragh Bellanova; Adrian Copeland, Stephen Gardiner; John Paul Redmond (capt.), Jordan Ahern (Michael Woods, 72), William Earle. Also: Aidan O'Brien.
Enniscorthy: Ross Barbour; Ivan Jacob, Hugh O'Neill, Killian Lett (capt.), David O'Dwyer; Ivan Poole, Evan Lett; Angelo Todisco, David Murphy, Paddy Waters (James Ruth, 65); Tomás Stamp (Brian Bolger, 60), Seán Wall; Tom Ryan, Timmy Morrissey, Greg Jacob. Also: Jack Kelly, James Doyle, Nick Doyle.
Referee: Helen Kelly (Dublin).