Clogher Valley 34 Tullamore 15

Clogher Valley played their first All-Ireland league match at the Cran and they made it two wins out of two as they came away with a bonus try point winning 34-15 victory against Tullamore.

Clogher got off to a fantastic start with a David Maxwell penalty in the first three minutes, quickly followed two minutes later by a Michael Treanor try as he drove over after several phases of pick and go close to the Tullamore line.

The conversation was added by Maxwell, and the Valley led 10-0 after just five minutes.

Tullamore were not going to be bowled over by the new boys of the AIL 2C and came back with a penalty and converted try of their own to draw level 10-10 after 12 minutes.

For the next 20 minutes, both teams traded blows and did not penetrate either defensive line with any great effect. Tullamore secured a lineout, 10 meters from the Valley line, they started with a catch and drive, then broke off and went through phase after phase until they found a gap in the Valley defence to cross the line. The visitors now led 15-10.

Minutes before the interval, Michael Bothwell popped to Jamie Allen at the Valley ten metre line who took off like an antelope cutting through the Tullamore defensive line with ease.

He was eventually stopped seven metres out, but Robbie Mills was on hand to take the pop pass and cross the line close to the posts to draw the scores even again. David Maxwell added the conversion to nudge the Valley ahead at the interval 17-15.

For the third quarter, both teams prodded the opposition defence, but there was no quarter given.

The tackling was brutal, and no love was shown to the opposition.

The Valley scrum started to dominate the set piece and they continued to be awarded penalty after penalty. It was the scrum which brought about the Valley’s third try on the 25-minute point.

A penalty was awarded which the home side opted for a scrum, after securing the ball at Callum Smyton’s feet at the back, they drove towards the line.

As Tullamore crumpled, the Valley kept going and only stopped when Callum Smyton had scored the home side’s third try.

The bonus point was gained when the skipper, Paul Armstrong went over for the fourth try.

A dominant scrum gave the home side field position, then phase after phase the Valley threw all they had at Tullamore, with Armstrong in possession as he crossed the line. The Valley now led 27-15.

As the clock ticked down, Tullamore had to be adventurous and throw the ball around. A try from the visitors would have secured them a losing bonus point and they pushed hard.

The Valley defence stood firm and when a side is throwing long passes to the winger there is always a risk of an interception. Taine Haire read the play, leaping into the air to catch the long pass, he sprinted the 45 metres in to score under the posts. David Maxwell added the conversion to leave the final score 34-15.

This was a test for the Valley. Tullamore finished in the top four of this league last season and are a team to be reckoned with. Clogher did make mistakes, and, in this league, you can be quickly punished. But in the end, their attacking skill, defensive organisation, and superior fitness came through.

Player of the match was jointly given to Jamie Allen and Taine Haire who both had fantastic games in Valley colours.

Next week the team travel to Cork to play Midleton. Elsewhere in the club, the 2nd XV lost to Banbridge, with the 3rd XV overcoming a strong Cavan side 10-0.

The youth had mixed results against local rivals Dungannon, with the U14 winning 47-7, the U16 losing 46-12 and the U18s winning 42-12.