Clogher Valley 7
Clogher Valley’s hopes of playng All-Ireland rugby next season ended on Saturday as they were defeated 18-7 by Munster champions Kanturk.
Kanturk took the game to Valley from the start. Playing with the slope, but against a strong wind they encamped in the Valley twenty two. They forced a scrum 5 and after several forays from their out half they worked a gap in a strangely hesitant Valley defence on the left to score in the corner inside five minutes and lead 5-0.
Valley reclaimed the restart and quickly drove towards the Kanturk line in a series of pick and drives. Kanturk were penalised and a great kick by Armstrong saw Valley in the Kanturk 22 with a lineout. Valley rolling maul took over and it seemed they were about to open their account but a player detached early for the line and was then penalised for holding on to relieve the pressure on Kanturk.
Valley were gaining some control and after fifteen minutes a pre-planned move from Best saw Sharkey through a gap in midfield. Best was on hand to take the return pass and he accelerated home for a Valley converted try and a 7-5 lead.
Kanturk raised their game and Valley were forced back on their own line for a long period of time. Only some last ditch defence stopped a Kanturk score but Valley could not fully relieve the pressure. Valley were forced into a series of changes as players took knocks and Kanturk capitalised on the slight disorganisation with another try in the corner to lead 10-7.
With so many changes in the Valley side they lacked the normal cohesion in rucks and mauls and were giving away penalties at crucial times. A good run by Donaldson was stopped with a Valley support player going of his feet and this allowed Kanturk to return to the Valley 22. They quickly added a further 3 points when Valley were penalised at a ruck to lead 13-7.
It was all Kanturk as half time approached. Valley could not hold the Kanturk backs and again Kanturk scored a try to lead 18-7 at the break.
At half time Valley regrouped and were a much better side with better balance. The Valley scrum started to dominate and with a more aggressive defence stopped Kanturk moving the ball wide again. Both sides were thowing the ball around but it was Kanturk who were being pulled around the pitch by the Valley attack. Unfortunately Valley could not find that extra space to reduce the deficit.
In the last twenty minutes Valley battered the Kanturk line but a series of knock-ons, turnovers and penalties stopped them scoring. The game ended with the score 18-7 after a scoreless second period.
On the day Kanturk were the slightly better team and deserved their victory. Although the result was disappointing Valley can be pleased with the performance of a patched together squad.
Players such as Henderson, Hopper and Ellis have only recently been added to the squad and all showed that they can play at this level. A special mention should be made of McAleer at prop, who played throughout the game with a known fractured rib incurred two weeks ago.
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