Impressive Rock Sarsfields claim minor league title
Our minor team Rock Sarsfields played Killanny in the GRM minor football league division 2 final last Saturday afternoon in Drumhowan and at the end of a dramatic encounter had five points to spare following a gutsy performance over a determined Killanny side. This was an enthralling game of football and as expected there was very little between these two evenly matched sides but, ultimately, when the chips were down the lads showed admirable fighting quality and deserved their win on a score-line Rock Sarsfields 2-12 Killanny 2-7 to claim the division two league title.
The game was played in glorious sunny conditions and it was Lorcan Smyth who got the scoring underway with a point after just twenty seconds. Killanny kicked wide on the 2nd minute but they did manage to register a point on the 5th minute when they pointed from a free-kick. Killanny continued to dominate the opening exchanges of the game and moments later they broke through our defence and crashed the ball into the back of our net leaving Adam Langdon no chance. They kicked further wides on the 9th and 10th minutes but stretched their lead shortly afterwards when they converted a free-kick to open up a 0-1 to 1-2 advantage after eleven minutes. Thankfully, we did recover and Mark Quigley pulled one back on the 14th minute following good approach play by Fergal McGeough and we cut the margin back further when Mark McGuirk found Fergal McGeough with a good pass and he glided over a peach of a point. Christopher Kilpatrick kicked narrowly wide on the 18th minute but moments later when Fergal McGeough was brought down Mark McGuirk showed his accuracy and bisected the uprights to leave just the minimum separating the sides 0-4 to 1-2.
Killanny spurned scoring opportunities on the 21st and 22nd minutes before Christopher Kilpatrick notched over a fabulous point to draw the sides level. Lorcan Smyth broke down a Killanny attack on the 27th minute that instigated a swift move down the field and when Fergal McGeough was hauled down Mark McGuirk converted the free-kick to take a one point lead. With half time approaching Christopher Kilpatrick latched onto a long delivery and sprinted away from his marker and his effort at the goals was just millimetres wide of the post. Killanny finished the half with a neat point to bring them on level terms and at the interval the scoreboard showed Rock Sarsfields 0-6 Killanny 1-3.
Killanny came out for the second half with all guns blazing and pointed after just twenty seconds. The game continued to be a ding-dong battle and Christopher Kilpatrick levelled the sides when he fired over a great point on the 7th minute. However, it didn’t take Killanny long to respond as this was immediately cancelled out when they scored another fine point from play. After a somewhat sluggish start to the second half we hit out stride and after some good approach play by the team, Fergal McGeough blasted the ball into the roof of the net to take a two point lead, leading 1-7 to 1-5. Unfortunately, our lead was short lived because Killanny swept downfield and won a penalty and the young lad kept his cool and buried it past our goal-keeper Adam Langdon to restore their lead. Those old enough to remember Billy Ocean he had a huge hit back in the eighties, ‘when the going gets tough the tough get going’ and this was definitely the case as the lads stuck to their task with admirable gusto and worked extremely hard for each other as we got to grips with proceedings and started to enjoy more possession and points from Mark McGuirk on the 16th minute and Christopher Kilpatrick on the 17th minute sparked a good period for the team. The crucial score, a goal from the stylish Mark McGuirk, came on the 18th minute when he finished off probably the best move of the game. A lovely passing move that involved numerous players as they weaved their way through the Killanny defence turning them inside out and when Mark McGuirk received the final pass he was left with the easy task of tapping the ball into the net to extend our advantage by four points leading 2-9 to 2-5.
Killanny converted a free-kick on the 19th minute to leave three points separating the sides but when Keelan Clerkin dispossessed a Killanny player at a crucial stage the action swung to the other end as we launched a swift counter attack and when Fergal McGeough collected the ball he skipped past his opponent and effortlessly sailed over a sweat point to restore a four point cushion. Killanny kicked wide on the 24th minute before they pointed two minutes later to reduce the deficit back to three points and at this stage the game was set up for a fascinating last five minutes. We all know how dangerous a three point lead can be in Gaelic football and Killanny poured on the pressure during the final stages, as they threw everything at us including the proverbial kitchen sink, but the defenders Iain McConnon, Kieran Corr, Macartan Kierans, Finian Smith and Gerard Graham remained solid as a ‘Rock’ and defended wisely and bravely to deny Killanny any simple scoring chances.
The insurance point came on the 28th minute when John McGuirk curled over a marvellous point from the left wing and when Mark McGuirk scored our last point from a free-kick, during injury time, we knew it was game, set and match. Seconds later players, mentors and supporters were celebrating wildly as the final whistle sounded as the lads claimed the GRM minor football league division two title on a score-line Rock Sarsfields 2-12 Killanny 2-7.
There’s a well-known saying that goes “some players want it to happen, some wish it would happen,” but in this instance the lads made it happen because ALL of them made a major contribution to this victory and it would be grossly unfair to pick-out any one individual for merit because the whole team was excellent. There were heroes on every line of the field and it was truly a team effort where all players from number one to number fifteen that started and those that came on worked tirelessly, they never gave up, played with heart and determination and battled for each other and this was reflected by the end result and I congratulate you on your wonderful achievement. I have to say fair-play to our team management Pascal Smyth, Jimmy McGeough from our side along with Enda Kilpatrick, Jim Graham and Adrian Thompson from the Killeevan club. They deserve enormous credit for the work they did with the lads and having the team playing together as a TEAM.
Please click the links below to view a selection of action photographs:
It certainly has been a remarkable journey for these young players and their season is not over yet because this Sunday 2nd October they take on Magheracloone in the second replay of the Maguire Transport championship semi-final. The two previous encounters were, in my mind, classic games and I would advise football fans to go along and cheer the lads on. Unfortunately, I will not be there to cheer you on because it’s my last training weekend before I head off to do my challenge for the Irish Heart Foundation but I will be shouting you on from the top of Carrantuohill. COME ON ROCK SARSFIELDS….YOU CAN DO IT.