Former Clogher Valley coach Davy Black recalls three memorable games that his side were involved in


Monday April 25, 2011
Towns’ Cup Final

Clogher Valley 1st XV 34
Ballynahinch 2nd XV 7


There is no doubt that this was a game changing win for Clogher Valley and it gave us the belief to push on and enjoy a lot of success in the years that followed.
The club did not have a good record in finals at Ravenhill, I think we had lost something like 10 or 11 there and and had never won one there so to have actually put that to bed and to have won one there, especially the Towns’ Cup was massive.
This was a catalyst that pushed the club on, it made us believe what we could and couldn’t do. After this we didn’t fear much. 
The pre-season the next year was even better again, numbers continued to grow and everybody wanted to be a part of what was going on at the club at that time. We went on to win another two Towns’ Cup after that and they were equally as important to us.
In the final we played a really strong Ballynahinch II team that had been virtually unbeaten all year and to have beaten them was a great achievement. The boys were outstanding on the day. I remember Aaron Best at scrum half was amazing, he was on a different level.
From our point of view, everything went according to the gameplan. The boys were excellent and they executed the gameplan 100 percent and I knew after 15 or 20 minutes that we were right on the money and we just continued that for the whole game.
I think Ballynahinch were shellshocked at the level of commitment and never say die attitude that they boys showed. They just threw everything at it, they put their bodies on the line and played hard rugby and there was just no way that they were going to lose.
I remember then going back down the road and the celebrations in Fivemiletown that night were unreal. Fivemiletown United football club had also won a cup that day and the town was stuffed with people. The two teams congregated out on the street and everything was closed off. It was just like a carnival, it was something special and something that will stick in the memory forever.


Saturday December 31, 2011
Qualifying League One

Cooke 1st XV 14
Clogher Valley 1st XV 20


It was only December but this was the key game as we went on to secure the Qualifying League One title this season.
Ourselves and Cooke were vying for the league that year and both teams were unbeaten going into that Christmas fixture. 
We knew it was going to be a big ask to travel up to that Cooke side and get a result. They were coached by former Ireland player Andy Ward and they also had a couple of big, key names playing with them so they were a formidable outfit.
I remember it was a phenomenally hard game of rugby, the hits and the commitment level was scary stuff but we produced a clinical performance and got the result. We got in, did the business and got out.
We knew when we beat Cooke, even though it was in December, that the league was in our own hands.
However, it wasn’t easy, we were sitting top but Cooke were making sure that there was pressure on us to win every single game. That was hard but it’s a true test of a good team and that team at the time with the likes of Ally Breen, Davy Dunlop, Philip Falconer, David Sharkey, Philip Moore to name but a few, that was side that was gelled together to win things and they really stuck at it that day.
We actually went through the league that year unbeaten which in Qualifying One is a remarkable achievement and I don’t think too many have done it before. 
Cooke though remained right in the mix and this was the only game that they lost and because of the bonus points that Cooke were collecting we still needed a bonus point victory on the last day of the season to win the league. 
We knew the significance of getting that win that day in December and also the importance of trying to stop Cooke picking up bonus points of any description.
I always said that cups were a bonus but to win the league is massive. 
It’s over the course of the year and to do it by going unbeaten in Qualifying One was spectacular. 


 Saturday February 1, 2014
All Ireland Junior Cup Final

Clogher Valley 1st XV 9
Enniscorthy 1st XV 10


We were so close to landing the All Ireland Junior title this day and we were bitterly disappointed not to have won it but to be playing on that stage was a wonderful achievement for the club.
You have to remember, this was a 20 year old club getting to an All Ireland final, it was so prestigious and just brilliant to be involved in.
It was an absolutely fantastic day out for ourselves and the whole of the Clogher Valley community. 
I think what made it all the more special was that we did this with home grown talent, players who had come solely through the youth system which was just unheard of. It was like fairytale stuff.
In the semi-final we had made the daunting journey to Skibbereen which is the far side of Cork to play Skibbereen on December 13 and we managed to come through that to reach the final against Enniscorthy in Rathmines RFC in Dublin.
 Building up to the game we were a still going in the Towns’ Cup and we had a backlog of fixtures but there was great excitement.
The game itself was tight and we were two up with about ten minutes to go before they landed a penalty to lead 10-9.
We had a kick to win it at the end but it just missed.
Look, somebody had to win and somebody had to lose and it just wasn’t to be for us on the day.
And sometimes, to lose makes you stronger. We had lost quite a bit before we started to win so sometimes you have to look at yourself and come back that little bit stronger and work that little bit harder. That was always how we operated, we kept working hard to improve. 
We had put down a marker that we were among the top junior rugby teams at that time.
It is also good to see the club going well again, they have gone through a bit of a rebuild but thankfully Clogher are back challenging at the top of the Junior spectrum.