CLOGHER Valley coach David Black insisted the hurt his players felt following their agonising 10-9 defeat to Enniscorthy in the All Ireland Junior Cup Final will spur them on for the remainder of the season.
Clogher failed to hit the heights in the showpiece decider at the grounds of Coolmine Rugby Club in Dublin and a missed penalty – by a hair’s breadth – by Philip Holme two minutes from time proved the difference between winning and losing.
It was an excruciatingly painful defeat but Black said his players will be back bigger and stronger.
“This one slipped from our grasp but we have a lot to look forward to this season,” he said.
“There’s a league to be played for, a Towns’ Cup to be played for and an All Ireland play-off hopefully.
“There’s been a lot of hard work to get here and we have to pick ourselves up and go again.”
The manner of the final defeat was particularly gut-wrenching and ultimately hinged on two late penalties, one that went over after Clogher forward Rodney Bennett had been sin-binned for a high tackle and one that didn’t, Holme’s effort drifting inches wide after appearing to be right on target when leaving the out-half’s boot.
Black admitted his side had made errors but refused to single out any mistakes that were more significant than any other.
“I wouldn’t criticise the team but it just didn’t happen for them to day, “ he continued.
“It was the swing of a boot, a kick of a ball, a one pointer.
“I prefer to be beat by more than one point. We had our chances but we didn’t take them. There were knock-ons here and there. It was just one of those days.”
Going into the decider, Clogher had built up a real head of steam. After defeating Skibbereen 20-8 in the semi-final, the Cran men posted impressive league wins against nearest rivals Portadown and Bangor before crushing Ballyclare 37-10 to book a place in the last eight of the Towns’ Cup.
All the indicators suggested the men from the Valley were poised to annex the one prize that so far had eluded them. On the day though they were a shadow of the side that had destroyed Ballyclare and Black admitted he was at odds to explain why his charges hadn’t brought their A game to the party.
“Coming off the last three weeks we were in confident mood. Maybe being such a massive occasion it got built up too much. Possibly there were nerves
“We made a number of mistakes and gave away a number of penalties on the day. That’s the winning and losing. Somebody has to lose.
“What I do know is them lads will be back. The hurt from this will spark the right reaction.”