Clogher Valley 43
City of Armagh II 10
Clogher Valley completed a famous double at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday, adding the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup to the All-Ireland crown they won at the same venue back in January.
Their winter triumph came in thrilling circumstances, with Neil Henderson’s late try and Paul Armstrong’s even later penalty seeing them claw themselves back from the jaws of defeat to beat Ballyclare in a thrilling finale in order to claim the All-Ireland crown for the first time ever.
Saturday’s success against City of Armagh seconds, whose first team lost to Queen’s in the Senior Cup immediately afterwards, was a marked contrast to that contest, with Clogher romping to victory thanks to an emphatic second half display at Ulster Rugby HQ as skipper Armstrong weighed in with a hat-trick of tries in another impressive performance.
Clogher Valley had an early opportunity to put their stamp on the game in the opening minutes with a scrum. They got the upper-hand to get the first penalty of the game to bring them to a promising area of the field.
City of Armagh soon regained possession after stripping the ball, sending David Agnew racing down the left-wing, but his offload didn’t quite make the hands of Richard Reaney in support.
They didn’t have too much longer to wait, as they broke the deadlock on eight minutes through James Crummie, who crashed over at short-range. Richard Reaney’s conversion attempt was just wide.
Clogher Valley looked to have immediately responded, after Callum Smyton made a fantastic carry towards the line, but City of Armagh managed to hold him up over the line.
The Fivemiletown side first struck with a quarter of the game gone. After a series of pick-and-goes, Matthew Bothwell opted to go wide where Regan Wilkinson was waiting in the wings. He did really well to dot the ball down in the far corner to draw level.
Armagh had the chance to go ahead seven minutes later, when they opted to go for the posts from inside their own half, but Richard Reaney’s commendable effort was just off-target.
The visitors had a penalty opportunity of their own on 35 minutes, but Paul Armstrong’s kick drifted left of the posts.
At the stroke of half-time, Clogher Valley took the lead through captain Paul Armstrong, who made a fantastic read to intercept and run clear under the posts, and he converted his try.
The visiting side started the second half strongly, Callum Smyton making a superb break through the midfield. Matthew Bothwell was on his shoulder in support to collect the pass and bundle over. Armstrong fired over the conversion to put them 14 points in front.
Clogher Valley’s tails were up, and they continued to probe Armagh’s line. Ewan Haire made a great run down the right tram lines to get them close to the line. Paul Armstrong showed great strength to muscle over for his second try. He landed the conversion to extend their lead.
Five minutes later, the men in green and navy had a penalty opportunity. Opting to go for the posts, Paul Armstrong nudged over the three points. Armagh temporarily went down to 14 men after David Agnew was sin-binned for infringing at the ruck, and Armstrong’s ensuing penalty attempt missed.
City of Armagh had got themselves to a good area of the field, and they went for the maul, but Clogher Valley did well over the ball to force the turnover and make the exit.
The home side claimed their second try ten minutes from time, as the returning David Agnew crossed in the corner. The flags stayed down on the tricky conversion attempt by Reaney.
The visiting side soon responded through out-half, David Maxwell who ran in for their fifth try of the afternoon. Armstrong’s conversion bounced off both posts before going over.
Captain Paul Armstrong signed off on his Player-of-the-Match performance with a hat-trick in the final minute of the game. He handed the kicking duties over to fellow try-scorer, Matthew Bothwell who drilled over the extras.
City of Armagh 2s
(15-9) Dylan Nelson, Daniel Reaney, Josh Agnew, John Faloon, David Agnew, Richard Reaney, Alex Johnston; (1-8) Aaron Whyte, Jack Sleator, Philip Nicholl, Ollie Millar (Capt.), Thomas Johnston, Sam Glasgow, Ryan Finlay, James Crummie. Replacements: Philip Matthews, James Johnston, Jonny Agnew, Ben Reynolds, Adam Hegarty.
(15-9) Ewan Haire, Stuart Brown, Paul Armstrong (Capt.), Reece Smyton, Regan Wilkinson, David Maxwell, Matthew Bothwell; (1-8) Michael Treanor, Aaron Crawford, Richard Primrose, Eugene McKenna, David Sharkey, David Stinson, Aaron Dunwoody, Callum Smyton. Replacements: Kyle Cobane, Neil Henderson, Jamie Allen, Matthew Wilson, Stuart Douglas.
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