Gorey capture cup
Rugby: Gorey 21 Wicklow 12
The South-East Cup, once a major event on the rugby calendar, saw Gorey take on Wicklow in an entertaining game in Arklow recently.
While the Leinster League has now taken over in importance, and with the holiday season in full flow, both sides had to dig into their respective panels, with a lot of youth featuring throughout.
This did not take from an entertaining game, with Gorey just about having that bit more experience to lift the cup on a score of 21-12.
Gorey opted to play with the wind, but Wicklow shaded the early stages as they moved the ball with purpose and width. This took them deep into the Gorey '22 and, a number of phases later, Alex Porter crossed for the opening try.
Wicklow kept moving the ball at every opportunity, but the Gorey defence was now coping and keeping the opposition deep in their half.
Twenty minutes in, Gorey were back on level terms when a turnover and quick hands saw Dave Shannon come into the line to cut through the Wicklow backs for a try. Cian Hadden landed the conversion for a 7-5 lead.
Into the strong wind, Wicklow stuck to their gameplan, with their backs looking lively when in possession. But it's sometimes difficult to keep that intensity going and, when Gorey managed another turnover inside the Wicklow half, a quick-thinking Cormac Walsh - on his first outing in the first team - showed great maturity to step a number of defenders and put his older brother, Eoin, through for a superb try. Cian Hadden added the conversion.
The final ten minutes of the half provided nip and tuck fare, with Gorey having a long-range Dave Shannon penalty attempt just dropping short.
The re-start saw Gorey, like Wicklow in the first-half, dominate the early proceedings.
Gorey were now edging the forward battle as Darragh O'Leary and Willie Earle kept the pack on the front foot. Phase after phase and a number of penalties later, Wicklow were reduced to 14 men.
Gorey finally made the territory pay when, after a series of scrums, Arron Davies crossed for a try, and Cian Hadden landed a tremendous conversion from the touchline to take the score to 21-5.
The game was now entering the final quarter, and Wicklow were now putting Gorey under a lot of pressure with some good carries from the pack.
Again they asked questions of the rearguard and, when Gorey were reduced to 14 men, Wicklow finally crossed the line again when Alex Porter touched down. Niall Earls added the conversion to leave nine between the sides.
Wicklow kept pushing but Gorey held tight for the remaining ten minutes to hold on for a win to lift the South-East Cup for the first time in five years.
Gorey had some good performances in the backs, with Dave Shannon, Flynn Donnelly and Cian Hadden showing well.
But it was in the forwards where this game was won, with the front five shading the exchanges in the set-pieces, while the back row of Walsh, Horan and Ahearn played well throughout.
Gorey are back in league duty on Saturday, January 11, with an away trip to Dundalk.
Meanwhile, the Leinster ladies' team played in Twickenham recently against Harlequins, and Gorey were well represented, with Daisy Earle, Clodagh Dunne and Katie Farrell featuring.
Gorey: W. Rothwell, C. Walsh, K. Browne, D. O'Leary (capt.), W. Earle, E. Walsh, B. Horan, J. Ahearn, A. Davis, C. Hadden, F. Donnelly, B. Brooks, H. Kennedy, J. Naughton, D. Shannon, S. Hadden, B. Mason, J. Willoughby, D. Slator, C. Reynolds.