No glory for Gorey
Dundalk 30 Gorey 5
We're at the halfway stage in the Leinster League Division 1A campaign, and Dundalk remain in hot pursuit of pace-setters Ashbourne following Saturday's comprehensive victory over inconsistent Gorey at Mill Road.
A fourth successive league win has kept Mike Walls' charges in second spot and attention now turns to this Saturday's visit of third-placed Enniscorthy who themselves will be looking to register a sixth success on the bounce.
Dundalk couldn't afford to let minds drift too far ahead, though, as Gorey arrived for a game scheduled for 5 p.m. to tie in with Dundalk's 'Night at the Races' fundraising evening that followed.
Unfortunately, the match clashed with the Ireland v Fiji international as a result, but that wasn't of concern to the Dundalk players and they had three points on the board inside two minutes as Gearóid McDonald kicked a 35-metre penalty after falling victim to a late tackle in midfield.
Gorey's Andrew Walsh made a clean break shortly after, and suddenly his team looked poised to attack Dundalk's try line, but second row Hamish Walker had other ideas and he ripped the ball from a Gorey forward in a maul to secure a vital turnover.
Tiernan Gonnelly's surging run from halfway led to a penalty for the hosts in the ninth minute and McDonald obliged once more, this time from close range, to give Dundalk a 6-0 advantage.
Even better was to come in the 18th minute as Gorey's line was breached for the first time.
Good carries from Gonnelly and David Whately from a scrum inside the opposition '22 had the Wexford men back-pedalling, and from recycled ball Walls and McDonald combined to set up Laurence Steen who took possession at full pelt and burst through to dive over from close range.
With McDonald kicking the extras from in front of the posts, Dundalk led 13-0 with only 19 minutes played.
The hosts couldn't sustain that early momentum, though, and the remainder of the first-half was a scrappy affair, broken up by lengthy stoppages as the referee struggled to deal with scrum issues.
Gorey's attempts to drag themselves back into contention were hindered by poor handling, although some of their knock-ons stemmed from Dundalk pressure.
Nevertheless, the visitors were made to rue a missed scoring opportunity just before half-time.
Having won a penalty 15 metres out, they kicked to the corner, and from the resulting line-out they swept the ball wide to Tommy New who fumbled the key pass, allowing Dundalk to clear their lines.
Gorey did finally register points just two minutes into the second-half, when a brilliant feint by their scrum-half Gareth Bater off a ruck opened up a gap and he sprinted for the line before off-loading to replacement Paul O'Connor who went over from close range.
James Nolan's conversion attempt was missed, but a subsequent line-out fumble by Walker suggested that the momentum was shifting towards Gorey.
Just as quickly, however, Dundalk regained control as a very poorly directed Gorey kick was snaffled by Robert Shields in midfield.
He and Gonnelly made 40 yards up the pitch between them, before Walls chipped over the top for Robert Williams to chase and the right winger's searing pace forced his Gorey counterpart Rob Harrington to carry the ball over his own line to concede a five-metre scrum.
Dominant throughout in the scrum, Dundalk weren't going to be denied and after a couple of phases off the set-piece, Walls burrowed over from close range and McDonald kicked the simple conversion (20-5).
Coming up to the hour mark Gorey had an opportunity to gain field position in the Dundalk '22, but a penalty decision was reversed and Daragh Conroy promptly booted the hosts deep into opposition territory where clean line-out ball and sharp handling from the backs led to a Robert Williams try.
Conroy pulled the difficult conversion across the posts, but Gorey try scorer O'Connor was sent to the bin in the 63rd minute and Dundalk took full advantage of the extra man by scoring their bonus-point try.
Again it was well-crafted, with Walls, Ultan Murphy, Whately, Conroy and Robert Williams all linking up before the impressive right wing Derek Williams got over for a score he most certainly deserved.
With the outcome already settled, the sides went through the motions for the remaining 15 minutes, and although New made a couple of good carries for the visitors in the latter stages, they never threatened to add to their solitary score. Enniscorthy visit Dundalk next weekend.
Gorey: Stephen Duke; Rob Harrington, Andrew Walsh, James Nolan, Tommy New; Marty Swartz, Gareth Bater; Dylan Gregan, Fergal Bolger, Darragh Bellanova; Darragh O'Leary, Stephen Gardiner; Mark Whelan, Killian Breen, Jordan Ahern. Replacements - Barry O'Connor, Richard Deering, Eoin Walsh, Conor Butler, Paul O'Connor.
Dundalk: Robert Williams; Derek Williams, Daragh Conroy, Laurence Steen, Robert Shields; Gearóid McDonald, Mike Walls; Johnny Gray, Seán Arrowsmith, Ciarán Brannigan; Hamish Walker, Enda Murphy; Tiernan Gonnelly, Alistair McCormack, David Whately. Replacements used - Ciarán Lennon, Conor Williams, Joe Marks, Ultan Murphy, Johnny Williams.