Omagh 1st XV 7 Clogher Valley 1st XV 17

Clogher Valley returned to winning ways after two defeats in a row before the festive break with a 17-7 win over local rivals Omagh.

Clogher Valley overcome Omagh at Mellon Park by scoring three tries against Omagh’s one in a performance that may still asks questions about the team’s ability to truly challenge Galwegians for the top spot in All Ireland League 2C.

The Valley were dominant from the outset, much faster around the park than their hosts and looked the most likely to score. Two Valley penalties in the first 10 minutes were missed and the spectators wondered was this going to be a repeat of the previous encounter, where nothing went right.

The very large crowd of over 1500 didn’t have long to wait until there was the first score. Omagh transgressed, Valley kicked the ball down the line, won the lineout and set up a rolling maul. The Valley drove the rolling maul hard, as the defence splintered, Kyle Cobane controlled the maul and dropped over the line to open the Valley’s scoring. The conversion was missed, but the visitors were leading 5-0.

It was only eight minutes later when the second Valley score came from an exact repeat of the first. Omagh transgressed, Valley kicked the penalty down the line, won the lineout and set up a rolling maul. It was that man Kyle Cobane who again controlled the maul with precision and with a little help from some of the backs, the Valley maul crossed the line for Cobane to score his second try. The conversion was again unsuccessful, but the visitors led 10-0.

As the clock ticked towards the interval, Clogher were in full control. They had 80 per cent possession and most of the game was being played in the Omagh half. But it was to be a Valley mistake that gave the hosts the opportunity to get a score of their own.

A five metre attacking scrum to Omagh, a determined drive from the pack and the hosts crossed the line to open their scoring. The conversion was successful and despite the dominance from the Valley the half time score was close at 10-7 to the Valley.

The second half was much of the same as the first, Valley dominant but not putting the scores away.

A Valley penalty was kicked to touch, the lineout was won and a rolling maul was established, but this time Omagh were ready for them and the maul was stopped. Phase after phase the Valley attacked, edging closer to the try line with every carry.

After what appeared to be an ‘age’ of relentless pressure, the Valley crossed the line for their third try, Kyle Cobane picking up an unusual hat-trick for a forward.

This time David Maxwell’s conversion kick was successful, and the Valley led 17-7.

That was how the match ended, with the Valley missing out on a try bonus point.

However, a win is a win and it is a good start to 2024.

In terms of team performance, the urgency is back, and they know this will benefit them by keeping the pressure on the opposition.

The Valley remain second in the league, two points behind Galwegians.

Next up is two home encounters, first against fourth place Enniscorthy, then against the league leaders, Galwegians.

Coach Stephen Bothwell knows there is still work to do. A huge improvement in attitude, speed and work rate, they now have to turn this dominance into points.

David Stinson was awarded Player of the Match for his dominant hits and superb drives through the opposition defence.