Clogher Valley 41 Ballina 12

Clogher Valley completed their promotion quest on Saturday with this comprehensive victory over visitors Ballina to be crowned Energia All-Ireland League 2C champions.

In front of the biggest crowd of the season, the Valley dug in the first period and cut loose towards the end to see them now up among the top 40 sides in Ireland.

Playing with the wind Ballina started the strongest and had a try overruled for a double movement as they pressed forward.

The Valley defence was again vital as they held out for the first half hour of play. Gradually the Valley got the measure of the visitors and started to press forward.

They were held up over the line giving Ballina a drop out. It went long in the following wind but straight into the hands of Ewan Haire.

70 metres later his brother Tain crossed for the opening try. David Maxwell struck a great conversion into the teeth of the gale to open his account.

Immediately from the restart, David Stinson went on a storming run to eventually link up with Matthew Bothwell who crossed out wide for the first of his three tries.

On this occasion the wind would blow the conversion attempt off course. It remained at 12-0 to the break.

Impartial Reporter: Clogher's Matthew Bothwell scored three tries as his side clinched the AIL 2C trophy.Clogher's Matthew Bothwell scored three tries as his side clinched the AIL 2C trophy. (Image: Donnie Phair)

Eight minutes into the second half Ballina ran a penalty from deep evaded several tackles and scored their first try which went unconverted.

Undeterred the Valley returned to the offensive and after a series of pick-and-goes Matthew Bothwell squeezed through the narrowest of gaps for his second try of the day. No conversion as overhead conditions made it very difficult for the kickers.

Within five minutes the Valley were back again pressing on the visitor's line.

As the big Ballina pack tired the Clogher pack shunted them back at a 5-metre scrum for Callum Smyton to get the all-important touchdown. This time the conversion came back off the upright.

A brilliant box kick from Matthew Bothwell was buffeted about in the wind causing panic in the Ballina rear guard.

David Maxwell gave chase, gathered and ran 50 metres in for the Valley's fifth try which he duly goaled.

With promotion now guaranteed Storm Kathleen decided to join the party. Heavy rain and hail pounded the Cran.

It was a great credit to the three officials and both teams for playing through it.

As the crowd raced for cover Ballina scored a breakaway try which they converted.

The final five minutes saw the Valley in complete control.

Callum Smyton charged down the wing swatting defenders aside for try number six and Matthew Bothwell won the race for a touchdown after a hopeful hack ahead.

David Maxwell added one more conversion.

Man of the match went to Matthew Bothwell for his hat-trick of tries and so much more.

On hand was John McKibben the IRFU chairman of the National Competitions Committee to present the league-winning trophy to the club and players. Cue one almighty party.

Next Saturday is the last game of the season. The final of the Senior Shield versus Ballymena in Eaton Park, Ballymena.