Council honours Clogher Valley Rugby Football Club with a Civic Reception

30th May 2022

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FODC Civic Reception for Clogher Valley RFC 24052022 008

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council recently hosted a Civic Reception in honour the players and coaching staff of Clogher Valley Rugby Football Club on their success in the All Ireland Junior Club Rugby Championships.

Speaking at the Civic Reception, the Chair, Councillor Errol Thompson said:

As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, it is an honour and privilege to host this Civic Reception to honour the players and coaching staff of Clogher Valley Rugby Football Club on their success in the All Ireland Junior Club Rugby Championships.

I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to our guests of honour, the team and management of Clogher Valley Rugby Football Club first XV who have joined us this evening to celebrate and reflect on what has been a wonderful season.”

Reflecting on the history of the Club, Councillor Thompson said:

“Clogher Valley RFC is firmly entrenched in the community and like many sports clubs plays a key role in all that is good. The club provides not only a vehicle for young men and women to play competitive sport but it also affords its members the opportunity to foster a sense of camaraderie which develops into lifelong friendships and a shared sense of purpose.

While the club itself was formed as recently as 1990, rugby in the Clogher Valley can predate this to the mid seventies when players from other clubs played in a series of mid-week fixtures.

Clogher Valley emerged in 1990 with one senior team playing in the Minor League 8 of the Ulster Rugby leagues.

As the years progressed, more adult, youth and most recently ladies teams were added to the Club roster.

Clogher Valley, has, through the years enjoyed tremendous success both on and off the field. The excellent facilities at the Cran in Fivemiletown are testament to how interest in the club has grown right across the area.

Representative honours this year have included Victoria Bothwell and Zara Hutchinson on the Ulster U-18’s sevens squad, while Shane Liggett has represented Ulster U-18’s. Club captain, Paul Armstrong, Callum Smyton, David Maxwell, Neil Henderson and Reece Smyton have all represented Ulster at junior level. I think you’ll agree that is quite a haul.”

Speaking about the All Ireland Junior Cup success, Councillor Thompson added:

“Saturday, January 29, 2022, will live long in the minds of all those lucky enough to be at the Kingspan that day. In front of a raucous support, you overcame a dogged Ballyclare team to secure a first ever All Ireland Junior Cup win and in the process, exorcise the demons of the painful one point defeat suffered to Enniscorthy in the 2014 decider.

At half time, with only a Paul Armstrong penalty to show on the scoreboard, Ballyclare led 11-3 and it looked a long way back for the team. But this team, under Head Coach, Stephen Bothwell and his coaching team, are nothing if not resilient and you fought your way back into the contest. With just eight minutes to go, and following a protracted spell camped on the Ballyclare try line, tight head, Neil Henderson crashed over the line for a try which was converted by Paul Armstrong to leave the minimum between the teams.

With the clock in the red, Clogher Valley earned a penalty just inside the Ballyclare 10 metre line and up stepped Paul Armstrong to send the ball between the posts for what turned out to be the winning score.

Shortly after, referee, Pauric Reidy, brought the game to a conclusion sparking joyous scenes on the pitch and in the stand completing a tremendous comeback and putting the seal on the greatest day in the club’s history.

I am sure the celebrations went long into the night on your return to the Clogher Valley and the images of the players and coaching staff parading the cup through a packed Fivemiletown was something which will live long in the memory of all those who were there.

That wasn’t the end of the season of course. You returned to Kingspan Stadium just last week and added the Millar Wylie McCall Ulster Junior Cup to your All Ireland title with a comfortable win over City of Armagh 2nds. What a fantastic way to end an amazing season.”

Congratulating the Team on its success over the years, Councillor Thompson stated:

“Sports clubs are at the heart of many communities, particularly in rural communities and Clogher Valley Rugby Football Club plays a key role in looking after the mental, physical an emotional wellbeing of the people of the Clogher Valley, young and old. Success can be measured with what you win on the field, but I would contend that success is also to be measured in the outlet provided by the club for the young people of the area both boys and girls to build friendships and develop a sense of camaraderie that will last a lifetime and give them a unity of purpose.

I commend you all on the work you do, from the first team coaches through to those who coach the Rugbees and in clubs like Clogher Valley, they can often be the same people. It is that sense of loyalty which sustains clubs through the good times and the bad and will give it a solid foundation to build for the future and hopefully enjoy even more success.”