BANN’S Under-17 side made a sad exit from the All-Ireland competition on Saturday after producing a performance well below the standard of which they are capable.
The first quarter hour of the game saw the Ulster champions dominate. Indeed they were seven points up after just four minutes play, but their failure to capitalise on a further ten minutes spent in and around the Gorey “22” proved crucial. The Leinster side hit back with two penalties in the second quarter and with virtually the final play of the half scored a try to take a lead which they were not to relinquish.
Flankers Ryan Dennison and Peter Cromie put in good runs to force Gorey to concede an early kickable penalty. Bann declined the goal-kicking option, electing to kick for the corner. It proved the right decision as Dennison took the ball at the tail of the lineout and raced in for the touchdown, with Adam Doherty converting.
Good tactical kicking, primarily from Doherty, kept Gorey pinned back, but Bann were unable to add to their tally at this stage. The Wexford side gradually worked their way into the game as their superior rucking earned them an increasing supply of ball. And when their threequarters swung into action they looked a much more potent attacking force than the Bann backs.
Doherty’s last-ditch tackle saved a score on 17 minutes but Gorey converted a subsequent penalty to reduce the arrears. As Bann continued in defensive mode, a high tackle gave the Gorey kicker another scoring opportunity on 32 minutes and he struck a second excellent kick between the uprights.
One minute before the break Gorey just missed with a third penalty, but before they had left the Bann half they picked up the try in the left hand corner which saw them take an 11-7 lead into the break.
Six minutes after the resumption Gorey struck again after Bann had failed to clear their lines. They were again able to create an overlap in the left hand corner, the unconverted try taking the score to 16-7.
Bann were far from finished at this stage and when they worked their way back into the opposition half they won a penalty in front of the posts. Unbelievably Doherty’s kick rebounded off the upright, but Bann regained possession, recycled and Jonny McCreery was able to force his way over the line for a try which Doherty did well to convert.
The Bann defence was showing an untypical frailty and Gorey took full advantage, scoring twice in a five minute spell that effectively put paid to Bann’s chances of going through to the All-Ireland final. Again Bann’s right flank was their Achilles heel as the Leinster champions created overlaps to stretch their lead to 14 points.
A third penalty left Bann needing an impossible three scores in the five minutes remaining. Ryan Graham came off the bench to add some zest to the Bann attack and he deserved the unconverted try in the corner which marked the end of the game and Bann’s interest in the competition.
Bann must now lift themselves to face the formidable challenge of Malone in the quarter-final of the Ulster Cup on Thursday (7th), with a 7.00pm ko at Gibson Park