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Clogher aim to go to town in tricky semi-final clash

By Ronnie Ingram

By Clogher Valley's high standards this season must go down as a disappointing one.

They have been badly hit by the loss of players and a spate of injuries in recent weeks so their hopes of springing a surprise in the River Rock Towns' Cup semi-final against Ballynahinch II this afternoon must be slim.

They did reach the semi-finals of the Irish Junior Cup only losing 20-19 to the ultimate winners Ashbourne but they were eliminated from the Millar, McCall Wylie Junior Cup in the second round and in Kukri Division One they only won six of their 17 games.

This was most uncharacteristic and in consequence they just managed to avoid a relegation play-off and will be absent from the Irish Junior Cup next season for the first time in six years after failing to finish in the top four.

Nevertheless Clogher have bounced back before and they have the best record in the Towns' Cup having competed in six of the last 10 finals with four victories.

Bone fractures to forwards David Sharkey in the first couple of minutes against Enniskillen last week and to Michael Trainor in the vital victory over Carrickfergus a fortnight ago combined with the absences of Neil Henderson and Philip Moore have meant a number of changes.

Their captain Ryan Cobain and full-back Philip Wilson are back again after injury but they face an uphill challenge against a Hinch team that not only has home advantage but has only lost once this season.

Hinch will be strengthened by the inclusion of Christopher Gibson on the bench, the scrum-half injured since before Christmas time.

Their strong pack includes stalwart Kenny Morton, the wily Andy Simpson and very reliable Gareth Gill.

In the backs will be speedy wingers Aaron Ferris and Chris Orr while the kicking ability of Chris Quinn at full-back will be of huge value to the Ballymacarn team.

In the other semi-final, Enniskillen - last season's defeated finalists against Bangor, 31-25 - are at home to Armagh II.

McCrea Cup semi-finals: Cooke v CIYMS, Malone II v Queen's II.

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