Saturday 22nd April 2017

Gorey RFC’s U17s made the long journey to Shay Murtagh Park in Mullingar today for their Leinster U17s Culliton Cup Final against Mullingar U17s.

Gorey were travelling after a disappointing defeat the previous week in their South East semi-final game against Wexford, where they didn’t perform to their usual standard.

Today’s game comes one week ahead of another important fixture, when they will face Wicklow U17s in the replay of the Leinster Premier League Final.

So, today’s game was an important opportunity to put the previous week’s disappointment behind them and bring home some silverware after an auspicious season to date.

However, standing in their way was a very strong Mullingar team, who had an impressive route to the final, with some notable victories against well-fancied opposition. They also had the benefit of a home fixture, as Shay Murtagh Park had already been selected at the beginning of the season as the venue for the U17s and U18s Leinster Plate and Cup Finals Festival.

Conditions on the day were perfect, with bright sunshine and very little wind. And the 4G surface of Mullingar’s new pitch offered the perfect setting for quick open rugby, which would suit both teams.

Mullingar started the game the stronger, and Gorey were forced to play on the back-foot for the opening phases, as they defended against strong runs from Mullingar’s powerful backs.

But Gorey managed to defend well and Mullingar failed to capitalise on opportunities when they had men over out wide on a number of occasions.

However on the 15-minute mark, Mullingar were penalised for being offside and Gorey Centre Mark Boyle chose to kick for touch, giving Gorey the first lineout of the game just ten metres from the Mullingar tryline. The ball was passed out to Alex Rothwell from the back of the ensuing maul and he made good ground before passing out to his captain, Robert Murphy, who in turn passed to Seán Wafer who barged over the line for the opening try of the game, after Gorey’s first foray into opposition territory.

Full Back Oisín Fortune struck the ball beautifully to convert the score. Mullingar 0 Gorey 7

Mullingar were a little shell-shocked by this score against the run of play, but they kept their heads and continued to press Gorey. The game was now more evenly balanced and both sides demonstrated some skilful play.

After much end to end play, Gorey eventually found themselves defending on their own line ten minutes later, repelling wave after wave of Mullingar attacks, it was only a matter of time before Mullingar inevitably got over for a try of their own.  Mullingar 5 Gorey 7

Both teams put in some crunching tackles, with Frank Kavanagh, Tadhg O’Neill and Mark Boyle in particular making some important hits at crucial stages for Gorey.

Gorey lost their trusty Full Back, Oisín Fortune, after sustaining an injury on the half hour mark.

With the clock counting down to half-time, Mullingar tried to clear their lines and kick for safety, but the ball was blocked down by Seán Wafer who chased it and narrowly missed out on grounding his second try, but he forced the Mullingar defender to concede a 5-metre scrum when he carried ball back.

Gorey’s scrum had been performing well thus far and the front row of Dylan Sawyer, Toby Falconer and Jack Ryan were solid as a rock. The ball was held well in this scrum before being picked off the back and fed quickly to oncoming charging Mark Boyle who proved unstoppable as he scored Gorey’s second try and gave them a wider margin going into the half-time break. Mullingar 5 Gorey 12

The half time interval gave both teams’ coaches a chance to refocus their charges and encourage them to raise their game. Both teams came out of the blocks re-energised, and Gorey’s newly introduced Greg Bolger on the wing, and Ryan Kinsella who had moved to Full Back made potential try-saving tackles to maintain Gorey’s narrow lead.

The playing surface seemed to be suiting Gorey’s speedy backs better now and they put Mullingar under pressure whenever they managed to spread the ball out wide. Scrum Half, Cillian Tomkins was distributing the ball well and Henry Kennedy was directing everything from his Out Half position.

Hooker, Toby Falconer turned over several balls and made some great tackles throughout the half, and his lineout throwing was exemplary. And front row replacement Niall Kenny put his hand up for a first team start with a storming introduction to the fray.

Half way through the second half Gorey were again pressing Mullingar and won a lineout just outside their 22. From here the ball was spread across the width of the pitch, stretching Mullingar’s defence, before being sent back from whence it came from hands to hands, finally reaching Second Row, Tadhg O’Neill who dived over for Gorey’s third try of the day. Mullingar 5 Gorey 19

To Mullingar’s credit they never gave up the fight and they continued to cause problems for Gorey, but Gorey’s defence was unstinting and every man tackled like his life depended on it.

As the final minutes ticked away, Gorey once again found themselves with a lineout just inside the Mullingar 22, which they mauled toward the tryline, which collapsed just before Ryan Gibney dived over to nab the closing try of the game. Mullingar 5 Gorey 26

This was a great team performance by Gorey against a very strong Mullingar team and rounds off a great cup campaign.

One final date awaits this team, as they face Wicklow in the Premier League Final, which takes place in Athy RFC next Saturday 29th April at 12 noon.


Jack Ryan

Toby Falconer

Dylan Sawyer

Cian Kenny

Tadhg O’Neill

Frank Kavanagh

Alex Rothwell

Robert Murphy (C)

Cillian Tomkins

Henry Kennedy

Ryan Kinsella

Mark Boyle

Seán Wafer

Flynn Donnelly

Oisín Fortune



Martin O’Loughlin

Niall Kenny

Ryan Gibney

Adam Byrne

Cormac Walsh

Mark Doyle

Greg Bolger

Eoin Canavan


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