After a success laden dozen year spell as coach in various capacities with Clogher Valley 1st XV Davy Black has decided that the time is right to step down.
Black has been involved with Clogher in a key role during their golden period that saw Towns’ Cups, Qualifying One league titles and a Junior Cup arrive at the Cran while they were also narrowly beaten in the 2014 All Ireland Junior Cup final by Enniscorthy.
“I’ve been involved a long time and I just felt that the time was right to step down. There is a new group of players coming through and maybe they need a new voice,” said Black on his decision.
However, he will take with him plenty of fond memories, both as a player and a coach.
“When I started playing for Clogher Valley in 1999 we were in Qualifying Two and the year after I was captain and we got promoted to Qualifying One. We went straight back down the next year and then straight back up again after that and it has been a big journey from then on,” he said.
Black was head coach when the club got their hands on major silverware in the 2006/7 season as they landed the Towns’ Cup and he believes that win was the platform for the success that would follow.
“The first Towns’ Cup we won was a real stand out moment as far as I would be concerned. We beat a real good Ballynahinch side that hadn’t really lost all season and we won it comfortably and that win gave us the belief to push on. We broke the duck of not having won so many times in finals and it was special. Once we got that cracked we kicked on well and sometimes you have to lose to appreciate what it is like to win,” he added.
And the 2010-1014 period saw cups and success arrive with regularity at the Cran with Black working alongside Glenn Kyle.
“Winning Qualifying One for the first time which we sealed with a win in Limavady, that was a massive thing for us and those years were a wonderful, wonderful time with for the club,” he said.
And they also were ever so close to securing the All Ireland Junior title in 2014.
“We played a very good Enniscorthy side and we lost by only a point. To be beat by one point and come that close to an All Ireland title was hard but also there was a lot of pride and satisfaction in having got that close,” Black commented.
There was also the opportunity to work with some superb players over the past 12 years while Black is quick to praise the efforts of those who ensure that the club is smoothly ran.
“You had the Breen brother Alistair and Andy. Andy was a great servant to the club and Alistair was one of the most talented players that I came across either playing or coaching. There have been very few that I have seen who could match Alistair Breen’s raw pace and reading of a game, he was exceptional. You have the likes of the two Wilsons who were also excellent servants to the clubs while you still have the likes of Sharkey and Philip Faulkner there. You also have so many unsung heroes behind the scenes at the club. Yes, we all need the players on the pitch to produce it but there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to get that team to success. The thing that sticks out for me more than anything about Clogher Valley is that it is family orientated club. You never had to ask for anything to be done, somebody already had done it, there was always that help and support in the background.”
And Black can’t speak highly enough of the players he has worked with.
“There is a lifetime of memories, you just couldn’t buy them, but the biggest thing as a coach for me is the sacrifice that the players make. As a coach it is pretty easy when you have a bunch of guys who sacrifice everything, put everything into every training session and when you always have 25 or 30 at each training session, week in, week out, when the snow was six inches deep, it makes it easier,” he stated.
This year Black was the forwards coach under head coach Hemi Tukiri but it was also one of the toughest as they were relegated but Black feels that there is plenty of positives to move forward with despite dropping down a division.
“This season has been as tough as any in getting relegated but there is a purpose in everything and although we have been relegated, the team has been reconstructed, there has been a turnaround in the age profile and hopefully that will pay dividends in the next two or three years.”
Indeed, he is very impressed with the current crop of players who made their bow in the 1st XV this season.
“There is some great talent coming through, albeit the boys are still young, give them a few years though and they will definitely reap the rewards of getting into the 1st XV so young and so early and playing together as a group. I know that if this group sticks togerther as well as the last generation did there is no doubt that there will be success.”
And what about Black’s own future?
“I’ll take a break and see what happens. I would imagine that I will have to be involved in rugby in the next 12 months to some degree, but where, what, how, who knows,” he concluded.