Saturday 7 December 2019

Favourites on song

Rugby: Enniscorthy 20 Gorey 5

Ivan Jacob of Enniscorthy under pressure from Gorey's Michael Duke in Sunday's semi-final in Park Lane. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ivan Jacob of Enniscorthy under pressure from Gorey's Michael Duke in Sunday's semi-final in Park Lane. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Brendan Furlong in Park Lane

Three stunning tries moved Enniscorthy within one game of further silverware when they completely overwhelmed Gorey in this torrid Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup semi-final at Park Lane, Wexford, on Sunday.

Played before a large crowd on an excellent surface, Gorey were left with many unanswered questions as they never got themselves into a position to mount a serious challenge.

The excellent composed play of Enniscorthy saw them dominate, running in three tries worthy of the occasion.

The game was only ten minutes old when, having absorbed some Gorey pressure, full-back Richie Dunne lit up the game with a stunning 80-metre run to score in the corner.

And while Gorey battled to stay in the hunt, two excellent Ivan Jacob tries sealed his side's passage through to the final where they will attempt to put Towns Cup victories back-to-back.

Enniscorthy's demanding season continues to move on at pace, with coaches Kieran Hurrell and Declan O'Brien's men retaining the appetite in what has been a hugely impressive campaign.

Their only defeat was in the All-Ireland Junior Cup final to Ashbourne, but it's the form they showed in winning the Leinster Junior League Division 1 title that they have carried over in the defence of this title.

Enniscorthy had dominance of possession and territory, especially through the second 30 minutes of both halves, and this led to their three tries. They were unlucky not to have added at least two further tries as they strove to convert this possession into scores.

The only place where Enniscorthy encountered a slight problem was in the scrum, against a heavyweight Gorey pack, but they overcame this with a quick ball delivered from the base by number 8 Nick Doyle, who enjoyed an excellent game, in the process neutralising the one area of opposition strength.

After that opening try, Enniscorthy put themselves in a brilliant place and how their confidence increased from that effort.

They were well organised and drilled in the pack, while the half-back pairing of Arthur Dunne and Ivan Poole controlled the game.

In the excellent conditions the back line looked hugely impressive and composed in attacking Gorey, and with their superior ball handling skill and excellent defensive line they always tested their opposite numbers.

Gorey tackled themselves into the ground, with Stephen Gardiner and Stanley Hadden getting in the big hits, while out-half Stephen Duke was also prominent in trying to direct play, but they were continually on the back foot.

Gorey opened the game as if they were about to mount a serious challenge. From the kick-off they held possession, and drove continually at the Enniscorthy defensive line, but during that opening ten minutes they only managed to make it inside the opposition '22 on one occasion, despite having the advantage of the breeze.

Then on ten minutes, as Gorey pressed close to the Enniscorthy line, excellent play from the pack saw a turnover, with the ball moved quickly along the line.

Full-back Richie Dunne entered the line at the crucial moment, saw the gap, and went for the break, beating the Gorey cover as he raced three-quarters of the pitch with a devastating run to get over in the corner. Ivan Poole added the conversion from out on the touchline with an excellent kick, leaving the scoreline 7-0.

With their confidence now up, Enniscorthy continued to press forward, increasing their lead after 15 minutes when, after Gorey were penalised for entering a ruck from an offside position, Poole added the 35-metre penalty.

Gorey were coming under serious pressure and, with their kicking failing them as they tried to clear their lines, it was no surprise that Enniscorthy increased their lead just on the break.

With Nick Doyle having won a clean line-out, they were held just short of the line, but they moved the ball quickly along the line and Ivan Jacob got on the end of an excellent move to beat two defenders as he powered over in the corner.

Poole was wide with a difficult conversion attempt but the eventual winners still looked comfortable, leading 15-0 at the interval.

As the second-half started, Gorey enjoyed a fine passage of play as they camped inside the opposition '22 during that spell, but when they were held up short of the line following four successive drives, it was evident that the second period was also going to be a struggle.

Having absorbed that opening without the concession of a score, Enniscorthy gradually worked their way back down field, mainly through the excellent kicking of Poole.

Having forced a line-out, Doyle took possession and his quick lay-off to Arthur Dunne saw the back line once again move the ball at speed for Jacob to get over for another excellent try. Poole was narrowly wide with the conversion attempt.

Gorey kept on battling and got their reward 14 minutes from the end when replacement Jordan Ahern crashed over following several drives close to the line, but Martin Kemp was wide with the conversion attempt.

Enniscorthy now await the winners of Longford and Wicklow in the final.

They begin their bid to gain promotion to the All-Senior League on Saturday when they travel to Belfast to take on Instonians.

This will be a huge test for Enniscorthy, who will have two further games in the round robin, home to Clonmel on the following week, before their final game away to Connemara All Blacks.

Enniscorthy: Richie Dune; Ivan Jacob, Daniel Pim, Killian Lett, David O'Dwyer; Ivan Poole, Arthur Dunne; Angelo Todisco, Davy Murphy, Paddy Waters; Timmy Morrissey, Stephen Hadley; Tom Ryan (capt.), Nick Doyle, Alan Jacob. Replacements: Hughie O'Neill, Billy Wickham, Liam Stamp, Jamie Barron, Conal Kavanagh, Liam Tracey, James Doyle.

Gorey: Michael Duke; Joe Naughton, Andrew Walsh, James Nolan, Robert Harrington; Stephen Duke, Stephen Horan; Ciarán Allen, Ethan Badham, Kevin Browne; Tom Jameson, Stephen Gardiner (capt.); Killian Breen, Stanley Hadden, Eddie Horan. Replacements: Eddie Walsh, Darragh Bellanova, Liam Stephens, Jordan Ahern, Michael Kemp.

Referee: John Flynn (Leinster Branch).

Wexford People

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