Gorey 18 Carlow 6
If possession and territory were all that mattered Carlow would have won this Bank of Ireland Towns Cup 1st round match against Gorey but it was the home side Gorey that actually put winning scores on the board.
The 18 -3 scoreline didn’t reflect the closeness of the game or that Carlow turned down at least three sure-fire chances to kick penalty goals when chasing tries late in the game. Plus, the visitors missed two penalty attempts in the 1st half.
From the kick-off Gorey pushed right up to the Carlow line and almost got through from a 5 metre lineout. Carlow were penalised while defending this onslaught and a Stephen Duke kick put Gorey 3 nil ahead by the 3rd minute.
From that 3rd minute to the 36th minute the game was played almost entirely in the Gorey side of the field and a visitor from outer space wouldn’t have guessed which team was from division Leinster League1A or 2A.
During this period Carlow bossed the scrums and the home side lost four of their own lineouts. Carlow’s Rob Browne missed two penalties neither of which were gimmies. Conditions underfoot were wet and sticky leading to a lot of errors from both sides.
Attacks were primarily coming via once off runners who invariably got dumped into the mud. But on 25 minutes Carlow centre Fionnan Burke seemed to have made a break that could have led to a score only to be called back for a forward pass.
In spite of the territorial advantage the visitors didn’t really threaten the Gorey line for the rest of the half.
Then in the 37th minute Gorey with a penalty made ground up the touchline. This was followed by a break from their centre O Connor.
He was hauled down eventually but from the ensuing maul Gorey hooker Fergal Bolger squeezed over the Carlow line. Duke missed the conversion but Gorey went into the break 8 – 0 ahead.
Unfortunately for Carlow the breeze strengthened behind the home side in the second half. Their Kiwi outhalf Marty Stewart used this to try to pin the visitors back at every chance.
Nine minutes into the half Gorey’s Duke missed a long range penalty. Against the wind Carlow still managed to make several forays into the Gorey 22 without scoring. The killer score came 15 minutes into the half.
Carlow seemed to have successfully defended a Gorey attack when sub Dave Shannon treaded a diagonal kick to the Carlow line for which centre Paul O Connor won the race for the touchdown. Duke converted to put his side 15 – 3 ahead.
Carlow spent the last 20 to 25 minutes chasing tries. Carlow subs Gordon, Lyons, O Donoghue, Keating and Walsh were brought on and the visiting scrum continued to dominate. With Carlow loosehead and Larry McGrath playing like a lion the visitors put huge pressure on the Gorey line. This resulted in the second half penalty count being 11 – 5 in Carlow’s favour.
Eminently kickable penalties were ignored in favour of scrums, lineouts and tap-and-goes. Nolan, Bermingham, Shirley and Whyte came close but the home defence held firm. A couple of times it looked as if the home side wasn’t back 10 metres for the Carlow quick taps but no censure came of these.
Instead it was Gorey that tacked on a late Duke penalty to stretch the lead to 18 – 3.
In truth Carlow hardly expected to win this cup game against higher ranked opposition but after coming toe to toe against Gorey on the field of play the Oakpark lads will certainly be disappointed with the 18 – 3 scoreline.
Rob Browne, Seamus Curran, Fionnan Burke, Simon Walshe, Johnny Murphy, John Whyte, Jeff McDermott, Larry McGrath, (Capt) Joe Gorman, Alan Byrne, Wes Shirley, Thomas Whitney, Niall Bermingham, Michael Mannion, James Nolan,
Subs; Timmy O Donoghue, Ross Byrne, Evan Gordon, John Lyons, Edmond Keating, Cormac Walshe
Stephen Duke, Rob Harrington, Paul O Connor, James Nolan, Andrew Walsh, Marty Stewart, Stephen Horan, Richard Deering, Fergal Bolger, Darragh Bellanova, Tom Jameson, Stephen Gardiner (capt), Eddie Horan, Killian Breen, Jordan Ahern.
Subs. Eoin Walsh, Dylan Gregan, Ben Horan, Daragh O Leary, David Shannon.