U-18s still unbeaten
Rugby: Skerries 17 Gorey 29
The Gorey Under-18s travelled to Skerries on Saturday for their penultimate game in the qualifying phase of the Leinster Premier League
They needed a win to go joint top of the league with Navan, who they are due to face in the final game of this series.
Injuries the previous week to two of Skerries' props meant that the game was played with uncontested scrums.
Gorey started strongest, immediately putting the home side on the back foot. Within minutes they had worked themselves into Skerries '22, and a fine kick from Cathal Stokes left them with a line-out.
Tadhg O'Neill comfortably gathered the ball and it found its way out again to Stokes who deftly chipped over the defensive line for the speedy Seán Wafer to chase and gather for Gorey's opening try. Stokes also added the conversion.
Skerries fought back and found themselves with a line-out on Gorey's five-metre line. Gorey managed to tap the ball away from the Skerries jumper but their alert scrum-half was first to react and fortuitously pounced for an equalising try to leave the sides level (7-7).
On the 20-minute mark Gorey were awarded a five-metre scrum from which they passed the ball out and formed a maul. They marched relentlessly towards the Skerries line where Oran Fitzpatrick grounded the ball in a well-orchestrated move straight from the training field.
Just minutes later, centre Seán Wafer collected the ball in Gorey's half and ran the length of the pitch, dodging and weaving between attempted tackles for a super solo try. Stokes, deputising for injured regular kicker Oisín Fitzpatrick, slotted over the conversion to leave Gorey leading 19-7.
Incredible tackling by Joe Butler, Alex Rothwell and Frank Kavanagh ensured that the home side's progress was stopped in its tracks.
The first-half finished with a penalty to Gorey, which Stokes confidently converted to leave them ahead 22-7.
Gorey launched several rolling mauls on the re-start, all of which were stopped by Skerries just short of the try line. Finally, they managed to march one right across the line for Cormac Walsh to score, but the referee was unsighted and deemed it to be held up.
Ten minutes into the second-half, Gorey were reduced to 14 men when Joe Butler was yellow carded for what seemed like a text book tackle.
Skerries couldn't capitalise on their numerical advantage as Gorey's defence was well organised and impenetrable. In particular, two outstanding tackles by winger Eoin Canavan stopped what could have been valuable scoring opportunities for the home side.
Once again Seán Wafer chased after a Cathal Stokes kick-through, and he gathered the ball without missing a step and grounded directly under the posts for his hat-trick try, but to his surprise the referee called play back for offside.
It didn't take long for Wafer to respond as, giving no opportunity for any disputes, he gathered a loose ball in midfield and ran through for his well-deserved hat-trick.
Skerries responded almost immediately with a try of their own when their winger managed to avoid a tackle to bring them a little closer to Gorey at 29-12.
Skerries were rewarded for their perseverance in over time when they scored another try, leaving a final score of 29-17.
For his incredible individual skill, as well as his team efforts, man of the match was Seán Wafer.
This win for Gorey sets up a mouth-watering final game next week as they travel to Navan. Both sit at the top of the league table and both are the only two unbeaten teams in their qualifier group.
Gorey: Niall Kenny, Cormac Walsh, Jack Ryan, Joe Butler, Tadhg O'Neill (capt.), Oran Fitzpatrick, Alex Rothwell, Frank Kavanagh, Cillian Tomkins, Cathal Stokes, Eoin Canavan, Adam Byrne, Seán Wafer, Andrew Cushen, Brian O'Leary. Subs. - Carl Johnston, Cian Sullivan, Rhys Slator, Kyle Manning, Gonzalo Sanchez, Donough McGivern.