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Rugby: Clogher Valley up for big final
Clogher Valley face the biggest game of their lives on Saturday when they take on Enniscorthy in the All Ireland Junior Cup final.
It’s a massive day for the young Valley Rugby Club who have had a tremendous last few seasons winning the Junior and Towns Cups, Qualifying One champions and All Ireland Junior Cup semi finalists last season.
Saturday’s Town’s Cup win over Ballyclare really gave Valley the final boost they needed for next week’s All Ireland clash, according to coach David Black.
“That was the team that tanked us in the quarter finals of the Junior Cup in October, but really it did us a real favour. Since then the boys have bucked themselves up and are playing some great stuff.”
“They put 39 points on the board against Enniskillen last week, but they just couldn’t live with us the form we are in. I didn’t really have to give a team talk. The boys were just busting to get out onto the pitch and we were 27-0 up by the break,” said Black.
But Saturday’s cup final will be a different level, he feels.
“We came out of the Ballyclare game with a good performance, a good result and injury free. Everything about it was correct.
“We’ve been slowly building and with good wins over Bangor and Portadown in recent weeks we had to up our game against Ballyclare.
“Saturday will be no different. We have been nudging forward week after week and Saturday will be no different. We will have to put in a big cup performance.”
The All Ireland Cup final is as big as it gets for Clogher Valley.
“To be in an All Ireland final in anything is big. This is the biggest thing we can get into. It’s a massive game for our little club and we’re looking forward to it.
“There is a great buzz around the club at the moment and training is going very well with between 25 and 35 there every night.”
Black knows it is a big ask for his boys to win an All Ireland crown.
“You have to be at the top of your game if you want to take an Ireland crown.”
The Tyrone outfit lost to Enniscorthy in the semi final of this competition 12 months ago and Declan O’Brien’s side defeated Portadown in the semi final stage this time around.
But coach Black believes his boys have this one in them.
“If they produce on the day then I think it will have to be a really good team to better us. The boys have worked extremely hard for this and won’t let it go easily and I hope they get their just rewards.
“I know they will give a good account of themselves. It will have to take a top team and a team in top form to beat the boys,” said a confident Black, who didn’t want to single out any players.
Instead he paid tribute to all his players.
“This season the forwards are really flying, but the back are playing some tremendous stuff too. In all the team is working well together. The forwards are setting things up well and the backs are makiing good use of the ball. It’s just a nice balance at the minute.”
Enniscorthy lost in the final to back to back champions Tullamore last February and will be looking to go all the way this season, but Valley look to be peaking at the right time, having gone 11 games without defeat.
“This certainly won’t be a 15 man game. To win it we will have to have 22 playing well. Our bench is stong and we play rolling subs in the final,” explained Black.
Black expects a big home crowd to travel to Dublin on Saturday.
“Generally speaking the Fivemiletown community supports us very well and we normally have a big travelling support. I expect Saturday to be no different. That gives us a big lift and will help us tremendously.”