Clogher Valley 43 Connemara All Blacks 10
Clogher Valley marched into the semi final of the All Ireland Junior Rugby
Cup with a comprehensive 43-10 victory over the Connemara All Blacks at the
On another pleasant afternoon, with the biggest home crowd of the season,
Valley started well with good field position and much encouragement from the
early exchanges. It was however to be Connemara who opened their account,
in their first incursion into the Valley half on 6 minutes, when the home
team were penalised at the breakdown. Connemara No 10, Sweeney, put his
team in front by kicking a penalty from just outside the Valley 22.
Valley were to increase the intensity upfront after this. Aided by
increasing forward dominance and a strong support game, much of the rest of
the match was played in the Connemara half. Best kicked well to bring
Valley well into the Connemara half after a strong scrum on 13 minutes. A
typically robust run from Falconer brought play towards the visitors’ line.
The resulting scrum saw Valley No.8 Wilson pick up and make a strong break
and fend off defenders for the home team’s first try on 16 minutes. Valley
No.10, Holme, kicked an excellent conversion to see the home team leading
Connemara briefly threatened to close the gap with an ambitious missed
penalty around halfway. The resulting play saw Valley full back Armstrong
launching a hefty punt back into the visitors’ 22. With home winger Stott
following up, the Connemara defence made a hash of clearing their line. A
transgression from Connemara saw Holme kick a penalty on 21 minutes to see
Valley leading 10-3.
After further transgressions from the visitors, the referee yellow carded
their lock, Flaherty, on 23 minutes. Valley took the opportunity to go
further ahead during this time. First, Wilson broke towards the Connemara
22, supported by McKenna (who had an excellent game throughout), Moore and
Cobain. With the visitors’ defence struggling to deal with the succession
of mauls it was Sharkey was made the decisive break to score Valley’s second
try on 24 minutes. Holme added the conversion to made it 17-3. With a
sense of dread prevailing over the Connemara pack at scrumtime, further
pressure from the Valley pack at a scrum 5 yards out from the visitors’ line
saw the referee going under the post for a penalty try on 31 minutes. Holme
converted this to leave Valley leading 24-3.
The remainder of the half saw Connemara, principally through its
sharp-looking backline, trying to claw some points back which it was unable
to do so and there were no further scores in the first half.
Connemara did however claw some points back immediately after the break
when, after some good linking, the ball was kicked through over Valley line
and the visitors’ full back, Vaughan, was on hand to score a try (which was
only allowed after the referee checked with his touch judge). Sweeney added
the conversion to leave it 24-10.
As has often been the case this season, the concession of points had a
galvanising impact on Valley. From the restart, the ball found its way back
into the Connemara half and, after the Valley maul had shattered the
visitors’ defence, it was winger Breen who was on hand to score his team’s
fourth try on 45 minutes. The conversion was missed to leave it 29-10 to
Valley missed a further chance immediately after when, after a great steal
by Sharkey at the lineout, good work by Cobain saw the ball spun out to the
Valley backs and the last pass was dropped. With the Valley tails up, they
continued to attack at will around the Connemara 22. With a further try in
the offing Connemara transgressed in front of their own posts on 57 minutes.
Valley chose the scrum and, with the Connemara scrum in disarray, Wilson was
on hand to dot down Valley’s fifth try. Holme added the conversion to see
Valley leading 36-10.
With Connemara trying to run from all over the field in the last quarter,
Valley continued to turnover ball and disrupt the visitors’ supply of ball.
One such turnover, on 74 minutes, was to lead to Valley’s best try when,
after several phases of play which brought the ball into the Connemara 22.
Stott then broke to the right of the posts to feed Armstrong who split the
defence to touch down for Valley’s sixth try. Holme added the conversion to
leave it at 43-10, which as the clock ran down, proved to be the final
Overall, a thoroughly convincing and comprehensive win by Valley with a
superb team performance a credit to their work on the training park. The
semi finals are due to take place on 13 December and, on this performance at
least, Valley can look forward to this date with some confidence.