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Saturday 21 September 2019

Gorey get through by the skin of their teeth

Gavin Mullins tries to break through the Mullingar defence
Gavin Mullins tries to break through the Mullingar defence
Gorey captain Jordan Ahern with mascots Abbie Gibney and Conor Wafer

After the disappointment of the previous week's loss to Kilkenny in the league, Gorey had the little distraction of the Provincial Towns Cup on Sunday.

Gorey 17 Mullingar 16

A home draw to Mullingar for the second year in a row was their reward. Mullingar are in second place in Division 2A and play a very open brand of rugby. As cup games are notorious for upsets, Gorey knew full well that this was going to be no walk in the park.

The match was played in dry conditions with a strong breeze blowing down the pitch from the direction of the clubhouse. Gorey opted to play with the wind in the first-half but Mullingar made all the early running and looked the sharper of the two.

This was to reflect on the scoresheet as their full-back, Jonathan Butler, punished the home side with two penalties after Gorey infringed at the rucks. Further pressure from Mullingar could have put them in front by more but Butler was just wide with two attempts.

With five minutes remaining in the first-half, Gorey finally managed to get a break when a long spiral kick from Brendon Spears cleared the head of the Mullingar winger to give Gorey a foothold in the '22.

From the line-out Gorey worked through the phases and a move, straight off the training ground, saw Andrew Walsh slice through the Mullingar defence to score their opening try. Shane Luby was just wide with the conversion. Half-time saw Mullingar hold the lead 6-5 but on the balance of play they could have been further ahead.

The second-half saw Gorey up their game and put major pressure on Mullingar, but the visitors' defence was strong and after a sustained bout of Gorey pressure a great turnover saw them clear their lines.

Gorey still kept coming and were moving the ball at pace, but an intercept saw the Mullingar centre race from his own '22 to score a try for Jonathan Butler to convert. Gorey were now 13-5 down and were staring at an early exit from the 2015 Towns Cup, but this team does not give up easily.

The next ten minutes saw Gorey throw caution to the wind as they attacked the Mullingar line non-stop.

Finally the cracks began to appear as the pack worked through the phases and quick ball through the backs saw John Condren crash over in the corner.

They say you need luck to win cup matches, and Gorey truly got that when Shane Luby's conversion attempt hopped off the crossbar and over to bring them within one point.

The re-start saw Gorey immediately penalised and Jonathan Butler duly obliged to put four points between the teams. Again Gorey had to fight back, and with Shane Luby growing in confidence he orchestrated his forwards and moved the ball wide for John Condren to go over in the corner for his second and Gorey's third try.

This was to put Gorey in the lead for the first time. The last ten minutes saw Mullingar trying to run from everywhere but a good Gorey defence saw them close out the game on a scoreline of 17-16 to loud cheers from the home support.

This was a cracking cup match played between two sporting teams. Gorey will know that they got the rub of the green to win this, but it's their name that went into the hat at 5 p.m. and they can look forward to a trip to Division 1A side Clondalkin on February 22.

Gorey had to dig deep but had some big performers with J.P. Redmond, Jordan Ahern, Geoff Dunne and Fergal Bolger the pick of a busy pack.

Andrew Walsh, John Condren, Seán Byrne and Garett Bater showed well in the backs.

The next home game is on Saturday, February 8, a crunch league tie against Malahide with kick-off at 7.30 p.m.

Team: C. Allen, B. O'Connor, R. Deering, A. Copeland, J.P. Redmond, J. Ahern (capt.), M. Woods, G. Dunne, G. Bater, S. Luby, A. Walsh, S. Byrne, B. Spears, J. Condren, P.J. Clince, J. Mulligan, A. O'Brien, K. Breen, G. Mullins, F. Bolger.

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