A repeat outcome as Ashbourne defeat Gorey once more
Rugby: Gorey 15 Ashbourne 22
For the second week in a row, Gorey had to play second fiddle to Ashbourne as the league leaders and three times All-Ireland Junior Cup champions showed all their experience to hang on for a deserved win in Clonattin on Saturday.
With just seven points between the teams and minutes left on the clock, Gorey camped on the visitors' line but, try as they might, they could not find a way over to force extra-time.
The first quarter was all action as the teams gave no quarter with massive hits from both. Gorey had shaded the territory, but a number of turnovers in the red zone cost them dearly.
They did manage to score first when Ashbourne were penalised, and Mark Kehoe raised the flag.
It was a shortlived lead as Gorey left a gaping hole in their defence for Jake Wall to race through.
The next few phases saw his brother, Alan, cross for a try. Gavin Kennedy added the conversion.
Gorey kept pounding away but a stubborn Ashbourne defence was proving hard to break down.
On 30 minutes, Ashbourne worked their way up the field and the visitors stretched their lead with a Gavin Kennedy penalty.
The last ten minutes were again closely-fought, with neither team able to find a gap as the half came to an end.
With a score between the teams, Gorey needed a good start on the resumption, but Ashbourne struck first.
Gorey gave away early territory and found themselves on the back foot.
Seven minutes in and a number of phases later, Ashbourne touched down for a vital score when Andy Whittaker finished off a forward effort.
Kennedy was just wide with the conversion to leave the score at 15-3.
From the re-start, Gorey got some territory and big carries from the pack saw them again at the visitors' line but, somehow, Ashbourne got their hands on the ball.
But as they went to clear their lines, Stephen Gardiner blocked down for Joe Naughton to gather and go over for a try. David Shannon was just wide with the conversion.
Another period of nip and tuck saw both teams carry hard. But a speculative kick down field caused a mix-up in the Gorey defence, with Joe Naughton yellow-carded when he was deemed to have played the ball on the ground.
Ashbourne were not long in capitalising, as they kept the pressure on the Gorey line.
They moved the ball wide and Arron McLoughlin crossed for a try, with Kennedy adding the conversion to leave the score at 22-8.
With five minutes to go and 22-8 down, Gorey somehow got within striking distance.
From the re-start, a turnover by Killian Breen earned Gorey a penalty, and David Shannon kicked to the corner.
Gorey mauled for the line for Kevin Browne to spin over for a try. Shannon converted to leave it a one-score game.
With three minutes left, Ashbourne were now shaky and, from the re-start, Gorey were not long in getting back in the visitors' '22.
Again phase after phase saw Gorey inch towards the line as they pounded away.
Ashbourne again got hands on the ball and a turnover saw them kick the ball out of play to advance to the semi-final of the All-Ireland Cup.
Next week, Gorey return to league duty with an away trip to Bective Rangers. Kick-off in Donnybrook is at 2.30 p.m.
Gorey: W. Rothwell, L. Molloy, K. Browne, D. O'Leary, T. Jameson, S. Gardiner (capt.), E. Walsh, B. Horan, D. McGrath, M. Kehoe, F. Donnelly, A. Walsh, F. O'Loughlin, D. Shannon, M. Duke, A. Davies, K. Breen, B. Mason, B. O'Connor, J. Naughton, C. Power.