Enniskillen 1st XV Head Coach Stevie Welsh looks back on three memorable games in Skins recent history.

Monday April 22, 2019 - Towns’ Cup Final

Enniskillen 1st XV 19 Ballyclare 1st XV 0

THIS one really meant a lot to the club as we had not won the Towns’ Cup in 82 years.
For me personally, the Towns’ Cup always meant more. I had lost finals – as a player in 2007 and as assistant coach in 2016 and 2017 – so we were determined to get over that final hurdle.
And to do it with an excellent performance on the day was just so pleasing.
This was my first year as the coach after having been assistant to Willie [Gibson] before that, and we just wanted to move it on to the next step, which was natural to do, and in the first couple of league games we were very unlucky but we were changing our style, and the boys stuck at it.
After Christmas, though, it seemed to click and we just went on a good run in the league and we carried that form into the cup. 
We had a few injuries coming up to the end of the season, but Easter was late that year and we had five weeks to prepare for the final, which worked out well for us.
Ballyclare were an excellent side – they had won the Towns’ Cup the year before, but I felt they thought that they would just tear it up and win, and I just knew that the boys had the bit between their teeth, and they just weren’t going to lie down.
Ballyclare had t-shirts all printed out, and they didn’t even warm up on the pitch, and I just felt even at that stage that we had them.

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I knew from the boys’ attitude from the start of that day that we were going to win.
I remember the final against Bangor in 2016, and I remember boys looking at their boots before the game, and I was just telling them to look around you, and don’t be nervous, and it wasn’t until the second half of that game that the boys finally got going.
I think that the boys were much more experienced then by the time the 2019 final came around.
You had Adam Lendrum there, and his first four years of his Senior career he had three finals [behind him] so it wasn’t going to faze him.
The performance of the boys in the game was also brilliant. Bar three minutes of the game, the plan worked perfectly, and the boys were just unbelievable.
They had a guy – Gary Weatherup, who played 7 – and he was renowned as one of the best open-sides in the league for years, but Ricky Lee, at number 8 for us, just kept running over him, and didn’t give him any space.
He just took him out of the game, which was what we wanted to do, and that was like a victory in itself.
He was their best player, and gets over the ball so well, and when you see something like that happening, early doors, you feel confident.
We had Mark O’Shea yellow-carded in the first half, and as I say, there was that three minutes when things didn’t go according to plan, but Mark went back on and had a stormer in the second half.
We were dominant in the second half and, for me, keeping them scoreless was as important as the three tries we scored.
It was brilliant then in those last five minutes or so to actually enjoy it.
We were able to relax, take in the atmosphere and look up to the family in the stand which, in games like that, you don’t normally have that opportunity. 
It was just a memorable day.

Saturday February 1, 2020 - Towns' Cup

Enniskillen 1st XV 12 City of Armagh IIs 3

IT MAY come as a surprise that I haven’t gone for the Junior Cup final, but instead a game against the same opposition, Armagh IIs, in the Towns’ Cup a few weeks after that Junior Cup final at Kingspan Stadium.
I was obviously immensely proud that we won the Junior Cup for the first time, but we had let ourselves down a little bit in the first half that night before going on to win it.
This game against Armagh IIs in the Towns’ Cup though was probably the best performance I have ever seen from an Enniskillen side. It was so professional, and completely ruthless.

Impartial Reporter: Try scorer Matthew Dane in action as Skins downed Armagh IIs in the Towns' Cup last year.Try scorer Matthew Dane in action as Skins downed Armagh IIs in the Towns' Cup last year.
I remember beating Ballynahinch in a Towns’ Cup semi-final in the year we lost to Bangor and that was brilliant, but that Armagh game was something else. The boys just weren’t going to get beaten that day.
Armagh were obviously coming here fired up to avenge that Junior Cup final loss, and they had 12 players in their squad who were 1st XV players, so it was a really strong team.
Armagh threw the ball about really well, but the boys kept their shape and then we took our chances.
You don’t get too many opportunities against a side like Armagh, so you have to take them when they come – and we did that day.
Matty Dane scored quite early after making a break, and John Maguire got the second try, and I just thought that the boys produced the most complete performance that I have seen from them. 

Armagh and Ballynahinch are the two best set-ups in the whole of Ulster – if you wanted a blueprint on how to make a club successful, they are where you would look to.
That game just shows for me the progress these players were making. 
From being involved under Willie and then as the coach myself, it is rewarding to see them becoming better players both mentally and physically and playing lovely rugby.

Saturday December 21, 2019 - Ulster Rugby Championship Division One

Enniskillen 1st XV 24 Clogher Valley 1st XV 21

Impartial Reporter: David Buchanan going on to score a try for Enniskillen in their derby win over Clogher Valley at Christmas 2019.David Buchanan going on to score a try for Enniskillen in their derby win over Clogher Valley at Christmas 2019.

THIS game was more about the resilience of the boys than anything else.
We didn’t play our best rugby, and it was a real dogfight, but the lads dug in and Davy Buchanan scored a bonus point try with the last play of the game to win it for us.
The derby games against Clogher are always special, especially those ones around Christmas time as this one was. I remember when Willie [Gibson] was coaching and I was helping, he used to always tell the boys before the derby game that ‘You don’t get any more points for beating Clogher than you do for beating Cooke’, and when Willie would go out of the room, I would shout at them ‘This is Clogher, we have to win’! 
But I know now what Willie meant - you can lose your clarity and your focus on the game, and your plans then go out the window.
There were a couple of early tries that we gifted to Clogher, so we had to really fight for it, but I did feel confident that day that we would come back and the resilience of the boys would shine through.
I recall going on behind the posts to say something just after one of their scores, and I remember hearing James Carleton just telling the boys to relax, that we had been in this position before, and we had got out of it, and I didn’t have to say anything. 
Clogher were ahead right at the death, but the boys went through a massive phase of play for Davy to score.
I think Davy actually got two that day, and Gavin Warrington got one, and there was a penalty try too.
Going into the bar afterwards, there was just such a great atmosphere, and it is a game that I will always remember for a long time, as to beat Clogher is massive.
I do think that is one thing that we missed this year, having the derby against Clogher at Christmas time, and bar the 80 minutes on the pitch, we all get on well.
There are players who have obviously played for both sides, and while it is always nice to get the win, it is always a good night either way.
As I said, it wasn’t our best performance, but the doggedness was so pleasing.