Gorey gain South-East title
The much-anticipated all-Wexford South-East league final between Gorey and reigning champions Enniscorthy was played in front of a very large crowd at Ross Road.
Both teams are in the running in their respective leagues with Enniscorthy hot on the heels of Dundalk in Division 1A and Gorey leading Division 1B.
This game provided Gorey with the opportunity to see how far their upward curve of recent seasons had progressed. Enniscorthy on the other hand were the 2014 All-Ireland Junior Club and South East League champions, and have been used to competing at what is perceived as a higher level every week.
The weather conditions were ideal for the game and it was a cracker. Gorey really took the action to Enniscorthy right from the off and their pressure put the holders on the back foot for almost all of the opening 30 minutes.
Full-back Brendon Spears punished the home team for the first of many indiscretions with a superb penalty from just inside the halfway line. This settled the visitors and they continued to put pressure on the home team.
Spears saw Gorey stretch their lead to 6-0 as Enniscorthy were struggling to get their hands on the ball. Enniscorthy did make a rare foray into Gorey territory and should have scored but Ivan Poole just shaved the outside of the post with the kick.
Further Gorey pressure saw the visitors awarded two more penalties and the in-form Spears kicked with aplomb to extend the score to 12-0. Gorey should have added a try when Ciarán Allen seemed to have scored but the referee adjudged that he had been held up. There is no doubt that the absence of Declan O'Brien, Seán Wall and Thomas Stamp did not help the home team's efforts as they struggled up front.
Enniscorthy eventually lifted the siege and after some good play worked their way into the Gorey '22 with a penalty which Ivan Poole kicked to the corner. A sustained bout of pressure from the resulting line-out saw them eventually create space, and a beautiful move saw out-half Ivan Poole go in under the posts to touch down. He added the conversion to take the score to 12-7.
From the re-start Gorey continued their assault on the Enniscorthy line and should have had another try, with Jeff Dunne racing for the line only for Ross Barbour to make a fantastic try-saving tackle. Enniscorthy kept their line intact and were relieved to hear the half-time whistle as really Gorey could have been out of sight such was their dominance in the opening half.
Gorey controlled the first-half but Enniscorthy upped the ante and took charge of the second. Credit to Gorey's defence though as they refused to buckle and with Matt Bater at its heart they were proving hard to break down.
Eventually the line was breached after 55 minutes when Enniscorthy were awarded a penalty, and from a quick tap Killian Lett reached over the line to score for Ivan Poole to convert. Enniscorthy saw a further Poole penalty stretch their lead to 17-12 and leave them in a commanding position as the clock ticked down.
Enniscorthy were wasteful when in charge and some dropped balls and wrong decisions were to prove costly. With seven minutes remaining they looked as if all they had to do was to close out the game, but they made a number of substitutions which seemed to disrupt their pattern of play.
They had won their line-outs throughout the match until the changes were made and with time ebbing away they lost three on the trot.
Gorey to their credit never gave up and they were now starting to get a grip on the match again as Enniscorthy looked ragged and disjointed.
Gorey's never-say-die attitude worked as Shane Luby kicked a penalty into the corner for a line-out from which J.P. Redmond went over to a huge cheer from the visiting supporters seven minutes into injury time.
It was no more than Gorey had deserved as this score drew the teams level. The ever-reliable Luby was given the task but just couldn't manage to split the posts as he slipped just on contact, and as a result the two tired teams had to drag their bodies through 20 minutes of extra-time.
Gorey started the brighter and Luby again put them on the front foot, with his forwards working their socks off as Enniscorthy's defence looked vulnerable. They eventually cracked as Gorey's tight head prop forward, Ciarán Allen, charged over for Luby to add the conversion.
Gorey were now completely on top and a line-out saw them rumble forward. After a number of phases of play, Adrian Copeland crashed over in the corner to put two scores between the teams (29-17).
The second period of extra-time saw Enniscorthy come back strong but unlike the second-half of normal time they could not break down a determined Gorey defence.
The final whistle sounded to huge cheers from the Gorey support as they lifted the South East League Cup for the first time since 2007.
This game had everything with both teams leaving nothing on the pitch. Enniscorthy can have no complaints as Gorey just seemed to want it that bit more and were full value for the win.
In an outstanding team performance for Gorey, the Bater brothers, Matt and Garrett, and Brendon Spears were the pick of the backs, with Ben Horan, J.P. Redmond, Ciarán Allen and Adrian Copeland the best of a very hard-working pack.
Enniscorthy had some great performances too from Tom Ryan, Timmy Morrissey and Mitchel Dalton in the forwards. Ivan Poole, Daniel Pim, Ivan Jacob and captain Killian Lett were the main men in the backs.
Gorey: James Mulligan, Barry O'Connor, Ciarán Allen, J.P. Redmond, Adrian Copeland, Jordan Ahearne (capt.), Ben Horan, Jeff Dunne, Garrett Bater, Aidan O'Brien, Andrew Walsh, Matt Bater, Seán Byrne, Paul Clince, Brandon Spears. Subs. - Shane Luby, Richard Deering, Rob Harrington, Michael Woods, George Mullins.
Enniscorthy: James Doyle, Davy Murphy, Angelo Todisco, Paddy Waters, Timmy Morrissey, Alan Jacob, Mitchel Dalton, Tom Ryan, Evan Lett, Ivan Poole, Ian Jacob, Danny Pim, Killian Lett, Hughie O'Neill, Ross Barbour, Paul Bolger, Jack Kelly, Robbie O'Connor, Shane McGuire.