- Result: Galwegians Firsts 7 - Clogher Valley 20
- Venue: Clogher Valley RFC on Sat Jan 27th 2024
- Competition: AIL Division 2C
Galwegians lose their grip on top of AIL Division 2C as they suffer their second defeat of the season to Clogher Valley, who steal first place in the division with a 20-7 victory over the Blues.
Galwegians were narrowly beaten in the previous fixture in Crowley Park in a thriller which gave the Valley a comfortable lead at the top of the table. But two consecutive defeats for the county Tyrone side allowed Galwegians to snatch the championship lead heading to Christmas.
Galwegians starting XV saw just two changes from the squad that defeated Omagh last time round with Liam Angermann returning at number eight and Shane Mallon’s first game of the new year, returning at full-back.
Clogher Valley started strongly, marching towards the 22 early on but Wegians secured the turnover at the ruck. However, they failed to clear their lines and conceded a penalty on the 25, which was in kicking range for Paul Armstrong. However, it glided wide and Clogher had to wait for their first score.
Instead, it would be the visitors who would strike first as Cian Brady took the lead for the Blues. With the Valley losing Jamie Allen to the bin early on, Wegians kicked to the corner and won the lineout. Recycling the ball out wide, Brady dodged the tackles and dotted over for the opening try of the game. Tiernan Neville had no issues with the conversion and found themselves ahead by seven points.
Clogher would square the game just five minutes later as Kyle Cobane crossed over for his first try to the joy of the hundreds of Clogher Valley supporters on the touchline. Clogher kicked towards the corner for the lineout and slowly began to inch forward, driving towards the line metre by metre. Eventually, Cobane was the x-factor for the Valley and clawed over the line to level the game following Armstrong’s conversion.
Momentum swung forwards and backwards between both sides with neither side giving any quarter to the other. Garyn Daniel opted to tap and go when the Blues found themselves five metres from the Clogher Valley try line and the ball ended up spilling and was knocked forward.
Clogher Valley would have the last laugh heading into the break as Galwegians conceded another penalty for offside and Armstrong had no qualms dispatching it for three points and Clogher Valley would take a 10-7 lead coming into half-time.
Galwegians’ problems were compounded with a yellow card for substitute Jesse Va’asfusuaga and Clogher Valley took advantage to extend their score as Armstrong scored another off the tee to make it 13-7.
Clogher Valley’s second try of the afternoon put some distance between the two sides on the scoreboard as David Sharkey crossed the whitewash. With Calum Smyton making the initial break from the rear of the scrum, it was another case of patient build-up during the phases. In the end, Sharkey carried himself over the line to give the hosts some breathing room. Armstong’s conversion made it 20-7 with the final quarter yet to play.
Galwegians with their first place now in severe jeopardy, threw everything they got on the Tyrone side and with a yellow card to Clogher’s full back, the Blues applied intense pressure. Galwegians were unlucky not to score as on two occasions they got themselves over the line but were just held up.
It wasn’t Galwegians’ day at the races as they couldn’t even find a losing bonus point, the final whistle blew, and Clogher Valley were now on top of Division 2C and secured the double over Galwegians. Only two points separate the two sides so this championship fight still has plenty of twists and turns yet to come.