Seniors show steal to advance to final
After knocking on the door for the past five or six seasons the senior team had earned the reputation of being the “nearly men” in that they get so far and promise so much but then were unable to deliver when it matters! However, in the semi-final of the Monaghan Electrical intermediate league played on Sunday 21st October, the class of 2012 finally graduated with first class honours as they cemented their place in the top flight of Monaghan senior football, for the first time in the clubs history, with a courageous and gutsy performance against a gallant Donaghmoyne side to secure the victory on a score-line Rockcorry 0-10 Donaghmoyne 1-4.
Next year we will be rubbing shoulders with the so called “big boys” of Monaghan football, now normally, I’m not often lost for words but today’s outcome was absolutely brilliant and a very emotional one. To witness what is truly a special and memorable moment in the clubs history is surreal. It is an extremely proud day for the club and our community, for all players, for all supporters, for all club members and committee members who have worked tirelessly for many, many years to reach this dreamlike moment. I know there were proud and passionate ‘Rock Gaels’ looking down from the veranda of Heaven today with pride supporting and cheering on the lads and certainly would have enjoyed these wonderful moments… (and it’s not over yet!!!).
The game itself was played in slippery conditions and was a highly competitive encounter where no quarter was asked or given by either side. This was a battling performance from our lads who at times struggled with Donaghmoyne’s physical strength but never under estimate the power of hunger and ultimately the raw desire to succeed! Scores were very much at a premium during this encounter and when Keelan Clerkin off-loaded to Fergal McGeough on the 3rd minute, he kicked a splendid score to open our account. Keelan Clerkin was in the thick of the action again a minute later as he surged forward and when he was brought down Mark Daly was accurate from the free-kick to double our advantage.
One of the features of this match was some outstanding defending by Keith Daly, Damien Matthews, Niall McKeown Conor McGeough, Stephen Lynch and Johnny Reilly as they soaked up pressure regularly and were breaking them down in the tackles and turning them over. This was exemplified on the 5th minute when Niall Mckeown made a super block to deny Donaghmoyne a point. The following minutes saw some wayward kicking from both teams but the impressive Paul McKoewn extended our lead with a superb point on the 10th minute to lead 0-3 to 0-0.
Donaghmoyne hit two successive wides on the 14th and 16th minutes but they finally got off the mark on the 23rd minute when they converted a free-kick. Johnny Reilly kicked wide on the 24th minute and a promising attack on the 27th minute involving Mark Daly and Paul Mckeown unfortunately led to nothing. At the other end however Donaghmoyne stepped it up a gear and when they delivered a long high ball into our goal mouth on the 28th minute their full forward flicked the ball into an empty net to take the lead, 0-3 to 1-1. Donaghmoyne were two points to the good within a minute as they hit another terrific point from a tight angle. However, less than thirty seconds later Paul McKeown reduced the deficit with a neat point and soon after the half time whistle sounded, leaving the scoreboard at the interval showing Rockcorry 0-4 Donaghmoyne 1-2.
Donaghmoyne started the better when play resumed and fired over the bar after just twenty seconds on the clock however, the men in red and white would fail to register another score for the next thirty minutes. A wonderful team move, on 2nd minute, that involved several players ended with Noel Carroll being hauled down and Mark Daly converted the free-kick to reduce the gap back to a single point. Good approach play from Conor McGeough on the 5th minute teed-up Mark Daly who dodged a couple of tackles and pointed brilliantly to level matters 0-6 to 1-3. We edged ahead on the 7th minute when Noel Carroll was fouled after a super run and Mark McGuirk calmly tapped over the free-kick to put us a point ahead, leading 0-7 to 1-3.
We received a major setback on the 9th minute when Paul McKeown received a second yellow for what appeared to be a very harsh decision – it was handbags at six paces (but the less said about that the better!!!). In fairness, this seemed to galvanise our lads and we responded better with fourteen men and with the game in the melting pot it was time for leaders to step up and be counted and team captain Keith Daly led the way with a masterful display at centre-half back who showed great courage and determination throughout the match and made some vital interceptions. With every scoring opportunity now crucial Fergal McGeough coolly sent over a free-kick, on the 14th minute, to put us two points in front, 0-8 to 1-3. We then hit a bit of a purple patch and when Lorcan Smyth was fouled on the 23rd minute Mark Daly stepped up to put three points between the sides and Stephen Lynch made that gap four with a peach of a point on the 25th minute to leave the score Rockcorry 0-10 Donaghmoyne 1-3.
Goal opportunities were few and far between in this game, but Donaghmoyne spurned one on the 30th minute when they blazed a shot over the bar to raise the white flag for the second time during the half. Moments later the final whistle sounded and the celebrations showed how much it meant to everyone involved in the club. We’ve been knocking on the door for the last five or six seasons and we’ve obviously had a lot of disappointments along the way. Getting past the semi-final is a huge thing for the club and the significance of this victory cannot be gauged. I don’t want to be regarded as a party pooper but we have one last hurdle to get over and that’s to face the tough task of taking on Doohamlet in the final of the Monaghan Electrical league.
I would like to extend my congratulations to Jim, Cormac and all the players, especially my two brothers Noel and Martin and wish them all the best in next weekend’s final. Well done to all concerned a proud, proud day for the club but I would ask you to please don’t just go along for the sing-song and be happy with your achievments….lets go and bring home the silverware…YOU CAN DO IT.
Team & Scorers: Jamie Smith, Conor McGeough, Damien Matthews, Niall McKeown, Johnny Reilly, Keith Daly, Stephen Lynch 0-1, Mark Daly 0-4, Martin Carroll, Lorcan Smyth, Paul McKeown 0-2, Keelan Clerkin, Mark McGuirk 0-1, Noel Carroll and Fergal McGeough 0-2. Subs: Anthony Tate for Keelan Clerkin and Barry Patterson for Martin Carroll.
To view a selection of action photographs on our Flickr page please click the link below:
COME ON ROCK…..DON’T LET THEM OUT EASY!!!