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Clogher Valley Crowned Energia All Ireland Junior Cup Champions

Ulster Rugby, Ravenhill, Kingspan Stadium, Northern Ireland, URC, Srormers, Northern Ireland, John Dickson, Dicksondigital

Clogher Valley captain Paul Armstrong celebrates with his team and the Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup, Photo by John Dickson/DICKSON DIGITAL

Clogher Valley became only the third side in the history of the Energia All Ireland Junior Cup to retain the trophy after they beat near rivals Enniskillen 30-18 in front of a bumper crowd of over 3,000 at Kingspan Stadium.

Clogher had the first opportunity to points on the board after two minutes but turned down a kickable penalty to the corner, but from the lineout Enniskillen were able to sack the maul and clear.

Clogher spurned another chance three minutes last, from a five metre scrum they created an overlap but the forwards decided to go for the line instead of spinning the ball wide and they conceded a penalty for crossing.

Flanker David Stinson’s searing line break nearly brough the game’s first try for Clogher but the Enniskillen defence managed to scramble and haul him down short of the line.

Clogher finally made their early dominance pay on 12 minutes as out half David Maxwell slotted over a penalty.

The Co Tyrone side continued to monopolise territory and position and got their reward on 19 minutes with a try.

From a five metre the scrum the ball was moved wide, winger Ewan Haire was stopped short of the line but flanker Tommy Coulter was able to pick up from the base of a ruck and power over with Maxwell adding the difficult conversion.

Enniskillen opened their account with their first sortie into the Clogher 22 as out half Eddie Keys knocked a penalty over from in front of the posts on 29 minutes.

Keys punished more indiscretion by Clogher in their own 22 with his second penalty on five minutes before the break.

Clogher had a couple of chances in the closing stages of the first half but couldn’t break the Enniskillen defence and had to settle for a 10-6 advantage at the interval.

Clogher’s second try arrived two minutes after the restart, from a penalty in midfield they kicked deep into the Enniskillen 22.

From the lineout the forwards set up a maul to propel replacement Aaron Dunwoody over for a try but Maxwell failed with the conversion.

Enniskillen tight head prop Matthew Graham was sin binned on 49 minutes for wheeling a scrum close to his own line.

Clogher immediately made their numerical advantage count, from the resulting penalty they opted from the scrum, the pack got the nudge on and drove Enniskillen back over their own line with No 8 Callum Smyton touching down and Maxwell adding the extras.

Callum Smyton scores a try 28/1/2023

Energia All-Ireland Men’s Junior Cup Final, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 28/1/2023 Clogher Valley vs Enniskillen, Clogher Valley’s Callum Smyton scores a try
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Restored to their full quota Enniskillen bludgeoned their way over the Clogher try line on 63 minutes with replacement prop Niall Keenan able to reach out and touchdown from close range and Keys converted.

However any dreams of a comeback for the Fermanagh side quickly disappeared as Clogher controlled the restart and forced a penalty which Maxwell landed.

Going into the closing stages Enniskillen forced a five metre scrum in the Clogher 22, but the Tyrone side had dominated the set piece all night and got a strong shove out to win a penalty and clear their lines.

Enniskillen never gave up and again were able to barge their way over from close range in the final minute with Keenan crossing the whitewash for second time, the try was unconverted but closed the gap to seven points entering stoppage time.

From the restart Clogher regathered, work the ball wide for full back Taine Hare to sprint over in the corner for an unconverted try to ensure the trophy stays at the Cran.

Clogher Valley 30 Enniskillen 18

Scores: ClogherValley: Tries: Tommy Coulter 19 mins, Aaron Dunwoody 42 mins, Callum Smyton 51 mins, Taine Haire 80 mins; Cons David Maxwell 19 mins, 51 mins; Pens David Maxwell 10 mins, 67 mins.

Enniskillen:Tries: Niall Keenan 63 mins, Keenan 79 mins; Cons Eddie Keys 63 mins; Pens Eddie Keys 29 mins, 35 mins

Clogher Valley: Taine Haire; Michael Bothwell; Paul Armstrong (C); Corneel Michem; Ewan Haire; David Maxwell; Matthew Bothwell;  Michael Treanor; Kyle Cobane; Neil Henderson; Eugene McKenna; Matthew Wilson; David Stinson; Tommy Coulter; Callum Smyton

Replacements: Richard Primrose for Henderson 24 mins, Aaron Crawford; Luke Alle for Henderson 56 mins; David Sharkey; Aaron Dunwoody for Coulter 41 mins; Reece Smyton; Neil Trotter, Philip Wilson

Enniskillen: George Foster; Sam Balfour; James Ferguson; Daire Hill; Mark O’Shea; Eddie Keys; Matthew Dane; Gavin Warrington; Matthew Beatty; Matthew Graham; Neil Rutledge; David Buchanan; James Carleton (C); Jack Rutledge; Michael Rooney