TWO grand occasions on two grand stages.
That sums up five days of Pembrokeshire sport last week as both Fishguard RFC and Johnston FC played in prestigious venues.
For the Seagulls, it was a bittersweet experience as they went down 27-17 against Wattstown in the Swalec Bowl final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The Tigers meanwhile, were overjoyed as they defeated Penlan Club 3-2 to win the West Wales Intermediate Cup at the Liberty Stadium.
But their achievements were about much more than the final result.
Both clubs captivated the county in the build-up before the games, and both enjoyed a day that players, coaches and supporters will never forget. It speaks volumes of Fishguard that they became the first Pembrokeshire side to reach a Swalec Cup, Plate or Bowl final.
And don’t be fooled into disregarding the Bowl as a lower tier competition.
It is a tough tournament which requires teams to beat difficult opposition at difficult venues.
Fishguard did just that.
And they did so with a squad flooded with young talent that has only recently emerged through the youth ranks.
Their reward was a televised game at a venue the majority of players in Wales, including professional ones, never experience.
They took nine busloads to Cardiff, and extra carriages were required on the train from Fishguard to meet demand. Overall, 1,200 fans were there to cheer them on.
And it was heartwarming to see their achievement recognised around the county. The club’s social network pages were inundated with well wishes, support that co-coach Huw Evans acknowledged in his prematch interview for S4C.
The same can be said of Johnston, whose fans made up the majority of the 974 who attended the Liberty Stadium last Wednesday.
Their West Wales cup run has gripped onlookers and, like Fishguard, the club has received huge support.
In the quarter-final they trailed Malsters Sports 2-0 yet prevailed 4- 2. In the semi-final, they levelled late in extra time before beating Morriston Olympic on penalties.
And we all know what happened in the final.
Their triumph has been testament to determination and a ‘never say die’ attitude.
They have shown our county teams have little to fear in the competition.
Indeed, had Goodwick United taken their chances in their game against Penlan Club, we could have had an all- Pembrokeshire final.
But more than anything, both Fishguard and the Tigers have created a feelgood factor to local sport, and given it exposure on a national stage. Their achievements should highlight the rewards of persevering with competitions that, in truth, can often appear a hindrance. Well done to both of them.