Clogher Valley make cup final as Portadown falter
It won't be an all-Ulster Irish Junior Cup final as although Clogher Valley gained their anticipated victory at Skibbereen 20-9, Portadown were defeated at Enniscorthy 14-13 where the elements dictated the pattern of play.
Clogher Manager Ritchie Haire was thrilled to win after such a long journey south.
"We played the sort of rugby that suited the conditions and gradually gained the better of the lineouts and scrums," he commented.
"We took time to adapt and soon found ourselves trailing 6-0 before a rolling maul ended with Stephen Baxter scoring for Philip Holme to add the points."
The visitors had deservedly taken a 7-6 interval advantage after Ger Hurley had kicked two home penalties.
"After the restart we had to defend for the first 15 minutes and then the forwards took over.
"Another drive and Andy Breen, who was always in the action, made it 12-6. Our opponents were still fighting back and Hurley kicked a third penalty before Holme replied with one.
The outcome was still in the balance so we were relieved when Philip Holme ran in for the third try in the final minute," he concluded.
Portadown coach Richard Hedley was a very disappointed man at Enniscorthy.
"The conditions were atrocious and I honestly believe that if we hadn't travelled so far the tie would have been postponed," Hedley said.
"I think we were the better team and as our strength is in our lineout the driving rain and wind helped to nullify our superiority in that department.
"The ball could not be thrown further than six metres so our jumpers were unable to function to their best."
Driving mauls led to Portadown's two first half tries from Gary Hall and Gareth McCoy and Enniscorthy kicked three penalties. Barry Gribben then had one for the visitors to make it 13-9 before they scored the winning try.