Midleton 15 Clogher Valley 26

Clogher Valley remain top of All Ireland League Division 2C with maximum points after three matches following a 26-15 point win over Cork side Midleton.

The Valley are clear of second place Galwegians by one point in the table.

Clogher made the 250 mile trip to Towns Park, East of Cork with the backdrop of Storm Babet which had left much of Midleton’s high street under four feet of water. Thankfully the firsts pitch was untouched, albeit a little damp under foot, but their second pitch was still under 12 inches of water.

This was not a game for the purist with both sides struggling to put two or three phases of play together before a mistake was made.

The home side were the first to make the least number of mistakes and took control of the match. It was the Valley defence that kept the home side at bay as it has on many occasions over the last few seasons.

The first 15 minutes domination and control was certainly being awarded to the home side, but they failed to cross the white wash and the score remained level at 0-0.

It was in the Valley’s first visit to the opposition ‘red zone’ that brought about the first score of game. A lineout was secured by David Stinson, it then went out the backs for Ewen Haire to put his brother Taine to score in the corner.

David Maxwell added the conversion, to put the Valley seven points ahead.

Midleton returned to dominating the game and soon had their own score to come back to 7-5. The hosts were to get on the score sheet once again with another unconverted try to take the lead 10-7 after 30 minutes. This was how it was to remain until the interval.

The second half saw Midleton start to play expansive rugby, but this gives the opportunity for intercepts and this was how Clogher took the lead again. David Maxwell read the play brilliantly, stepped in taking the ball at pace and cantered through the 40 metres to score under the posts. He added the conversion to his own try and the visitors were back in front 14-10.

And 12 minutes into the second half, Paul Armstrong put a great kick through, the chasing Taine Haire made a menace of himself as the Midleton defender tried to gather and Valley’s Robbie Mills was the quickest to react to score the visitors third try.

Midleton were a big team and they used the extra weight to good advantage. From a lineout, they drove over to score their third try, but it was not converted.

The Valley still led, but only by four points. For long periods the Valley were under pressure, but their defence was strong. As the game entered the last five minutes, Reece Smyton stole the ball in midfield, Ewen Haire chipped through for Karl Bothwell to win the foot race to score Valley’s fourth try, to gain that bonus point. David Maxwell added the extra two points to end the scoring for the day.

The Valley took the spoils 26-15, but know they were in a scrape, from the tired and sore bodies the next morning.

Clogher sit on the top of the league on 15 points after three matches, but know there are tough encounters yet to come.

Next weekend the 1st XV get a well-deserved rest and are able to rest the bodies.

Elsewhere in the Club, the 2nds lost 33-10 to Queens, with the U18 Girls losing to Enniskillen, but a strong win for the U14 Girls taking the points against Enniskillen 51-26.