Clogher Valley 45 Clonmel 16

Clogher Valley were too strong for Munster visitors Clonmel in the All Ireland League 2C overcoming them 45-16.

The visitors got off to a great start and went 3-0 up after 90 seconds of play when their out-half slotted a penalty from 40 metres. This should have been a warning to the home side, not to transgress in their own half.

It was in the first visit to the Clonmel half when the Valley hit back immediately. The Haire brothers combined to take the play down the right wing, the ball was recycled and skipper Paul Armstrong with a cross field kick, put the ball into Calum Smyton’s hands for Valley to score their first try.

Clonmel hit back with another penalty two minutes later to retake the lead 6-5 followed by another Clonmel penalty which took the visitors out to 9-5. The game was 25 minutes old, when Armstrong was to add to the Valley score as he punched through to score under the posts. Armstrong added the conversion and the Valley retook the lead 12-9.

By now the Valley pack were dominating the scrums. Despite being the smallest of the two packs, the Valley men showed their true power to drive the visitors off even their own put ins.

On the half hour mark, Matthew Bothwell broke down the middle, popping to his skipper Armstrong again for his second try, and Valley’s third. Armstrong converted his own try and the home side led 19-9. The score remained the same until the interval.

The next Valley try involved a number of people. Ewan Haire safely took a high kick, and made 20 metres, David Maxwell then spun the ball out wide, Karl Bothwell drove on and Calum Smyton was on the receiving end of the pass to score his second try. The Valley looked comfortable and in charge. Despite the visitors getting the next score with a well taken lineout, then a drive which made 10 metres, it was the only time the visitors really looked dangerous.

With the score 24-16 to the home side, the next score would be crucial. If the visitors scored, it may give them confidence to keep pressing. But that was not to be. From a Valley lineout, the pack drove towards the Clonmel try line, David Stinson broke around the edge to score his first try of the day. Armstrong converted to take the Valley lead to 31-16.

By now the Clonmel players were losing their shape and the Valley pounced. A slick move along the backs, saw Taine Haire side step his opposite number and score.

Skipper Armstrong converted and the home side extended their lead to 38-16. The Valley were on the score sheet two minutes later when Aaron Dunwoody also got into the try scoring business when he drove through the Clonmel defensive line to score, and with Armstrong adding the conversion, the home side were well ahead 45-16.

This is how the match ended, but the Valley are getting back to their ruthless efficiency after a few weeks of not their normal efficient selves.

The front row were outstanding, generating the power to drive even the bigger team off the ball. Matthew Bothwell at scrum half is improving game on game, the speed he is getting the ball away from the rucks is giving the backs that additional second to decide where the gaps are.

Overall, a much better performance from the Valley men. While their mistakes did cost them 9 points, they were by far the stronger of the two sides and take that additional bonus point leaving them 20 points from four games.

Next week is a drive to Clonmel’s Munster neighbours Bruff who currently sit third in this league with three wins from four.

Elsewhere in the Club, the 2nd XV were narrowly beaten by Limavady 19-17 in the Junior Shield and the 3rds were overcome by Enniskillen on Friday night.