Enniskillen 1st XV 36
Clogher 1st XV 7
Enniskillen 1st XV saw off their league season in fine fashion last Saturday with a bonus point win over local rivals Clogher Valley in a 36-7 win for the Mullaghmeen men. Clogher certainly had their fair share of misfortune with a broken arm minutes into the game for talisman David Sharkey, and other pivotal injuries were incurred throughout. Enniskillen, however, to their credit put in a tremendous performance and really looked a quality side in all areas of the game.
The early encounters were physical from both sides but Enniskillen registered first blood through a well worked backs move that found in form winger Baloucoune crossing over in the corner, unconverted to go 5-0 up. The pressure continued to be strong from the home side as they pinned Clogher in their own half and eventually the penalty came that, unfortunately for Skins, just sailed wide of the posts. Clogher defended well against this early pressure and managed to mount an attack in the Skins half shortly afterwards. While attacking inside the Skins 22’ Clogher’s Moore was then forced to leave the field after landing awkwardly from a tackle, the Skins tackler then seeing a yellow card for no use of the arms. Clogher then used their maul effectively to cross the line through Cobane as Skins were found wanting of numbers on the edge of the maul, converted by Trotter to go 7-5 up.
Clogher implemented their trademark short range bombardment of the Enniskillen line for the next 10 minutes and retained the ball well, asking a big defensive effort from the pack with Willis and Lee making some high impact hits. When Skins got back in possession, however, they looked very dangerous, and with the scrum making excellent gains they were soon deep in the Valley half once again. An attempted clearance from Valley found Michael Law who did well to fend off an attacker and lay the ball off to Baloucoune who used his extreme pace once again to round the defence and score his second, converted to go 12-7 up.
Clogher were down to 14 for the second half as Philip Wilson was forced to abandon proceedings with a head injury and all subs already in use. Clogher fought admirably to contain Skins for the first period of the second half but the Skins attack was in full flow now, with the backs clinical and the set piece flawless; in contrast Parke and Holden expertly disrupted the Clogher line out throughout which made it difficult for the visitors to keep hold of any possession. Connor Keys, who had run excellent probing lines from 13 all day, picked up a well deserved try as he slipped through a gap in the Clogher defence, converted to go 19-7 up. Skins worked their way into the Clogher half again shortly after the restart and as they probed the defence with short range carries off a line out, Ferguson at scrum half excavated the ball and sent it wide to Lendrum who put Baloucoune through on a slicing line for his hat trick, converted to go 26-7.
Clogher kicked a bit too much to a talented Skins back three in the last 20 minutes and Finlay rapidly brought play back into the opposition half from full back. From a counter attack Matthew Balmer went through for a great solo effort with a kick and chase over the defence to touch down in the corner to go 31-7 up.
Clogher received a yellow card in open play shortly afterwards as they tried to shut down Skins’ momentum and another head injury had them down to twelve men. Threatening inside the Clogher half yet again Buchanan spotted a gap straight through the ruck and broke off the line to score the final try and wrap things up 36-7.
It was an excellent win for Skins against a Clogher side who, despite going through a rebuilding phase, still showed a lot of grit and had to be ground down in the early period of the game. More importantly for Enniskillen it was a well executed 80 minute performance. The fate of Enniskillen’s hopes for a top four league finish remain in the balance dependent upon other results this weekend but they have done all that could be asked of them, with bonus points from all of their final three league fixtures, and their focus will now be firmly on their Town’s Cup semi-final this weekend against Armagh 2nd XV. The semi final kicks off at Mullaghmeen at 2.30pm this Saturday and all support would be appreciated.