IT was a disappointing start to the New Year for Letterkenny’s second string as they were well beaten by Cloughervalley from Fermanagh in the Butler’s Shield at Dave Gallaher Park on Saturday afternoon.
Letterkenny 2nds 5
Clougher Valley 40
The Letterkenny side faced the wind in the first half and held their own for much of the 40 minutes on a wild afternoon in the depths of winter. The home support would’ve been content enough at that point. Their side’s defence was firm for the most part and would’ve considered themselves in with a shout after the break.
Damien Sheenan, the Clougher Valley full-back, sneaked in for the first try of the day on just seven minutes. The impressive Aidy Lee kicked into space and as the Letterkenny defence misjudged the ball it was allowed to bounce and Sheenan was alive to the opportunity. Lee missed the conversion but that was to prove the one blot on his copybook all day.
Letterkenny were facing mounting pressure but held on by one means or another. A Clougher Valley drive for the line looked good, only for visiting No 8 Mark Robinson to be held up by the Letterkenny defence in the nick of time.
The teams were level soon afterwards, on 14 minutes in fact, when, from their first real upfield forage, Letterkenny’s No 8 Rouse managed to touch down. Stephen Robinson was unable to put his side in front from the resultant conversion. It was as close as Letterkenny would come all afternoon. From there the gulf just gradually grew.
Just when it looked as though the score would be deadlocked at 5-5 apiece at the break, it was the away team who surged in front. Following a five-metre scrum, scrum-half Lee Carruth fed Lee to get in for the try, which he converted himself to ascertain a 12-5 half-time advantage for the guests.
Letterkenny, just seven down, were certainly in with a shout but the wind in the second half wasn’t as strong as they might’ve wished and Clougher Valley used the ball in hand well.
They stretched their lead on 46 minutes following a fine move, one which saw Davy Speer and Lee swap passes before the latter scampered away, and then touched down, for a 19-5 away lead.
With conditions worsening and little way back for Letterkenny, the home team let their heads drop and Clougher Valley took total advantage. Garnett Kindney ran straight through the heart of the Letterkenny defence for a simple try on 56 minutes and Lee converted to make it 26-5.
Out-half Lee was having a wonderful match and ran from midfield on 71 minutes to get away for the best try of the match. Once more, he converted to make it 33-5. Scrum-half Carruth then finished the job with a final nail in the Letterkenny coffin late on.
Letterkenny: Stephen Robinson; Liam Fogarty, Colm McNicholl, Casmir Abakanyarko, Stephen Devine; Brendan McGrory, Brian McGrory; Danny McLaughlin, Paddy Bond, Marty Bond; Ben Mortimer, Rory O’Donnell, Brian McGinley, Ronan McLaughlin, Mark Rouse. Replacements: Boyd Robinson for Brian McGrory (half-time),
Clougher Valley: Damien Sheenan; Shane Corrigan, Russell Smyton, Davy Speer, Davy McKeown; Lee Carruth, Aidy Mee; Dominic Foye, Garnett Kidney, Philip Hopper, Paul Eagleson, Davy Hicks, Mark Moor, Bob Mulligan, Trevor Robinson. Replacement: Alan Greenaway for Smyton (60).
Umpire: Mick O’Kane (City of Derry).