Ashbourne 1st XV 20 Clogher Valley 1st XV 19

Clogher Valley suffered an agonising one point defeat in the All Ireland Junior Cup semi-final on Saturday when they went down 20-19 away to Leinster outfit Ashbourne.
Playing for eight minutes with 13 players and 30 minutes with 14 players it was a heroic effort to be only one point adrift at the final whistle and coach Davy Black admits it was a gutting loss although he feels that if the game had gone on another ten minutes then they would have won it.
“Ashbourne started at a frenetic pace but as the game settled we came more into it. We probably just didn’t do enough in the end and we felt that the odd decision went against us on the day. I think if there had been another five or ten minutes then there would have been a different outcome but to lose by just one point in an All Ireland semi-final is gutting for everybody,” he commented.
The early pressure was applied by Clogher. 
At the first Ashbourne scrum Clogher nudged them back and they conceded an early penalty. Trotter pushed the play deep into the Ashbourne danger zone to set up good field position. A forceful subsequent maul was pulled down by Ashbourne another penalty was to follow. 
The Valley continued to press, Ryan Wilson made good yards of an advancing scrum before Sharkey gathered and crashed over for the opening score. Trotter added the extras and the journey all seemed worthwhile. 
The home side came more and more into the game with their half- backs and blindside flanker making good yards. A crunching Agnew tackle halted one such sortie but the pressure was building. 
Another penalty sailed wide much to the relief of the travelling support. Clogher lost influential prop Moore to injury which was to be a blow but a bigger blow was to follow shortly. 
Ashbourne cut loose from midfield in a flowing move that resulted in their centre crossing for their opening try, the visitors complained bitterly about a forward pass during the move but to no avail. It was goaled to even the contest up. 
Skipper Cobain was yellow carded for a high tackle on the half-hour mark and Ashbourne converted the penalty to take the lead for the first time. 
The restart was deep and Ashbourne attacked at pace from depth. This was their real strength and Clogher just ran out of defenders with the Ashbourne out half going under the posts for a fine try which was converted. 
A linesman spotted some offence and Ryan Wilson, with little explanation, was yellow carded. 
In the space of two minutes Clogher lost two players and conceded 10 points. The brave13 held on for the remainder of the half but it was gut wrenching at times.
Falconer joined the action after the break and introduced himself to his opposite number with a thumping tackle. Cobain was soon restored to the game and when Wilson arrived back on Clogher set about addressing the scoreboard. A big Robinson carry was halted illegally and Trotter found a good touch deep in Ashbourne territory. A perfectly executed lineout followed by a great maul saw Breen get the touchdown. It went unconverted but with only five points separating the sides, hopes were rising.
Minutes later came the hammer blow. A second yellow and a frustrated and confused Wilson was sent from the park. Penalty in front of posts and it was an eight point game again.
Moore bravely returned to the action for the remainder. Clogher, forced to chase the game, did so with some urgency. Ashbourne struggled up front as their pack tired.  
The Leinster side conceded a series of professional penalties as they struggled to keep the visitors at bay. Cobain led from the front, McKenna, Treanor, Robinson and Sharkey made big carries as the clocked edged towards the 80 minute mark. 
A big ‘go forward’ maul seemed to be working before it was halted illegally and the referee on this occasion had no hesitation in awarding the penalty try. Trotter quickly added the conversion and it was back to the action.
The final minutes were hectic, frustrating and nail biting but Clogher couldn’t add to their points tally and it will be Ashbourne who will contest the final in the New Year.