BRAVE EFFORT JUST FALLS SHORT
All the doom and gloom involving a savage injury crisis and having to concede a recent intermediate league game was temporarily set aside when our reserve footballers travelled to play Carrickmacross in the replay of the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football Championship on Wednesday 14th May. There’s no doubting that we were the overwhelming underdogs in light of all the recent injuries and in fairness it was a huge challenge and even miraculous that we managed to gather enough players to field a team. A team that included a third of the players who were actually fit and able to play, the second third were the walking wounded as they were carrying multiple injuries and the final third contained a bunch of over 40’s who came out of hibernation so that we could fulfil the fixture!
However, despite all our problems the mood in the camp was very high, nobody was complaining, and it was great to see the fighting spirit and hear the fighting talk with words like “were not here to make up numbers” echoing around the dressing-rooms! The game was played in pleasant conditions although the playing surface was a bit slippery and despite it being a championship replay it was watched, unsurprisingly, by just a handful of supporters which was a very disappointing factor. We struggled during the opening exchanges as a stronger and more physical Carrickmacross side piled on the pressure from the start and wasted little time exerting their dominance and enjoyed a healthy lead, leading 1-6 to 0-0 after six minutes on the clock. We were living off crumbs but registered our first score on the 10th minute when Colin Quinn curled over a splendid point from the left wing and the popular myth that lightning cannot or does not strike the same place twice was firmly put to bed as Colin Quinn added another super point two minutes later. We continued to show admirable courage and good approach play by Shane Wynne, Andrew Carroll, Brian Fitzpatrick and Anthony Tate teed up team captain Dwayne Rooney who hit a gem from distance to leave the scoreboard showing 1-6 to 0-3 midway through the first moiety. Carrickmacross gradually retook control of the match with some fine scores and during a ten minute blitzkrieg that yielded 1-5 they enjoyed a healthy and a comfortable 2-11 to 0-3 advantage at the interval.
Behind by fourteen points we found ourselves with the proverbial mountain to climb and if we were to get back into the game we needed to start the second half in determined fashion. Carrickmacross tapped over a point after just fifty seconds from the throw-in, and at this stage the players could have been excused for going through the motions but the lads seized the opportunity and just went for it. Because that score for the home side seemed to ignite a spark in the team and after a slow start we soon got into our stride and the youthful and energetic Christopher Greenan split the uprights with a delightful point to kick-start our comeback. I have to say I love to see players kicking long range points and I believe the skill of kicking long range points demonstrates a combination of two abilities involving strength with accuracy. On the 2nd minute, Christopher Greenan showed physical fitness and prowess and drove the ball from way out the field right between the uprights for an excellent point to leave the score 2-12 to 0-5.
The industrious Anthony Tate, who was well wrapped up and wore a massive amount of bandages, got in on the action on the 6th minute when he played a well-executed one-two with Stephen McGuirk and he finished in style scoring a classy point. Carrickmacross added a neat score on the 5th minute but undoubtedly the biggest talking point of the game arrived three minutes later with the best score of the match and believe me you will not witness a better goal in this year’s All Ireland Championship or any other competition because it was an absolute SCREEEEEEEEEEEEAMER (I should be on SKY Sports!!!) It all started with a patient build-up that involved a number of players and when Anthony Tate off-loaded to the on-rushing Stephen McGuirk, he still had a lot of work to do, but he used his craftiness and guile to slip past a number of tackles and from thirty metres he rifled an unstoppable shot past the Carrickmacross goal-keeper who was left standing static and watched the ball hit the back of the net for a cracking score.
At this juncture, we were playing some lovely free-flowing football which was a joy to watch and the ensuing kick-out was superbly fielded by the hard-working Andrew Carroll who threaded a pin-point cross-field pass to Stephen McGuirk and he showed that none of his old instincts were missing and proved that class is permanent when he slotted over a terrific score. We continued to play with a lot more purpose and our intensity levels remained high and shortly afterwards Stephen McGuirk, who was in the thick of the action throughout, turned provider on this occasion when he set up Colin Quinn who raised another white flag with a sweet finish. On the 15th minute, Dwayne Rooney showed an extremely cool head to convert a free-kick from a difficult angle following a foul on Anthony Tate and just moments later Stephen McGuirk pulled a point back with a fine finish after Dwayne Rooney did all the hard graft down the right wing to leave the scoreboard showing Carrickmacross 2-13 Rockcorry 1-10.
At this stage, a trio of old timers or being more politically correct ‘mature and experienced campaigners’ who included Felix Grannaghan, Ciaran O’Hart and Michael Carroll with a combined age of ??? (I better not say) were introduced into the match and personally speaking it felt good to wear the green jersey for one last time! With the deficit now reduced to six points we suffered a fatal blow on the 18th minute when Carrickmacross were awarded a penalty, against the run of play, and the resultant spot kick was expertly converted to restore a nine point cushion. To the lads credit their heads never dropped and the team continued to play with enormous pride and were prepared to sweat blood and tears for each other and they responded in typical defiant terms with a salvo of 1-2 in a three minute spell. Colin Quinn fired over a nice point on the 21st minute and shortly after following a fine run through the heart of the Carrickmacross defence he slotted over his fifth point. (That’s right folks, it’s not a typo he did actually kick five points from play…F-I-V-E)
Anthony Tate had an opportunity to sneak a point on the 23rd minute but his attempt at the target drifted narrowly wide but just seconds later we raised a green flag when Ross Murray showed marvellous perseverance along the end line and as he weaved his way past a number of challenges he coolly finished to the net to leave the score 3-13 to 2-12. Carrickmacross, who are a quality outfit, once again took control of the game and pointed on the 24th minute to open up a five point gap. We stayed in touching distance with Stephen McGuirk converting a free-kick on the 25th minute and Dwayne Rooney who was in excellent form despite carrying niggling injuries hit another top-drawer score to reduce the deficit back to three points, 3-14 to 2-14.
On the 27th minute, outstanding, brave and solid defending by Garry Calvert thwarted a promising Carricmacross attack and Michael Carroll displayed unreal AAA (athleticism, acceleration and agility) to claim the loose ball and with a swift counter-attack down the field that involved Cathal Sheridan, Ciaran O’Hart and Stephen McGuirk ended with Anthony Tate being hauled down but the normally ultra-reliable Dwayne Rooney missed the target as his effort drifted agonisingly to the right and wide. Our dreams of salvaging something from the game were shattered when the home side finished the strongest and put the game beyond any reasonable doubt when they wrapped up the scoring on the 28th and 29th minutes to secure the victory on a final score-line 3-16 to 2-14.
This was an amazing match and against all the odds the lads showed they were more than capable of matching their opponents and it was no shame to lose the game. Looking at the players faces after the game they were really exhausted, battered and sore leaving the pitch because every player gave it their all and showed all the traits of heart, spirit, character, leadership, honesty and most importantly they displayed enormous pride of wearing the green jersey. The team grew stronger with every minute and they all worked extremely hard and there was great teamwork and some very impressive scores and perhaps with a bit more believe during the first period who knows what might have happened!
Hard luck lads, you did yourselves and the club proud.
Team & Scorers: Aaron Clerkin, Garry Calvert, Ross Murray (1-0), Colin Quinn (0-5), Shane Wynne, Dwayne Rooney (0-3, 1f), Christopher Greenan (0-2), Andrew Carroll, Stephen McGuirk (1-3,1f), Anthony Tate (0-1), Dave McArdle, Brian Fitzpatrick. Subs: Michael Carroll for Shane Wynne, Felix Gannaghan for Dave McArdle and Ciaran O’Hart for Brian Fitzpatrick.
To view a selection of action photographs from the game please click the link below to visit our Flickr page.