Reserve Football League Final – Tuesday 14th September
Rock grind out victory to claim division 4 league title
Team: Jamie Smith, Cathal Sheridan 0-1, Rory Carroll, Pauric Reilly, Ryan Sharkey 0-1, Colin Reilly, Colin Quinn, Barry Patterson, Liam Connolly 0-2, Keelan Clerkin 0-1, Martin Carroll 0-1, Conor McGeough, Shane Wynne, Mark McGuirk 0-5, and Anthony Tate. Subs: John Greenan for Cathal Sheridan (injured), Declan McCullagh for Anthony Tate
There’s an old saying ‘no bottle – no milk’ and in this case it was the ‘bottle’ of our reserve team as a unit that claimed the Monaghan Electric division 4 league title when they overcame a gallant Toome side on a scoreline 0-11 to 0-8. Hunger is a word often used to describe a team’s keenness and on this occasion our lads showed that they were starving, as the passion, the fire in their bellies, drove them on in this contest as they left absolutely every ounce of energy on the field and when the final whistle sounded it was very evident by the scenes of jubilation and celebration what this win meant to the players, officials and supporters because a fourteen year margin since our last triumph is a long time and Coiln Reilly now joins a privileged group of individuals that includes Pascal Smyth (1982), Nicky Calvert (1993) and Kieran McCormill (1996) that have all one thing in common, they have been captains of a Rockcorry team that have had the honour to accept a trophy on behalf of their teammates.
The game was played at Grattan Park, Inniskeen on Tuesday 14th September and while heavy rain and windy conditions threatened to ruin the game but both sides battled the elements and each other at a frantic pace to gain the early advantage and we were first to open the scoring with just one minute gone as a good move involving Martin Carroll and Ryan Sharkey ended with Mark McGuirk converting a free-kick. Toome responded immediately when they pointed a free-kick but we regained the lead on the 6th minute when Liam Connolly fired over a lovely point after a fine move down the field. Good defending by Pauric Reilly a minute later resulted in a sideline ball and after a patient build-up the ball arrived to Keelan Clerkin but his effort at the upright was off-target. Cathal Sheridan thwarted a Toome attack, on the 9th minute, that instigated a well engineered move down the field and when Mark McGuirk was brought down Colin Quinn’s free-kick attempt drifted to the right and wide. We were very fortunate on the 11th minute when Toome launched a long delivery into our danger area and with the windy conditions it deceived Rory Carroll and the full forward was one-on-one with our goal-keeper but Jamie Smith showed quick reactions to put him off and he kicked it wide. Shane Wynne coped admirably when he foiled a Toome attack but shortly afterwards when they made another charge up the field the referee signaled a free for something only he saw, after it appeared that Ryan Sharkey made a perfectly good tackle, but the decision stood and they tapped over to make it 0-2 apiece.
On the 13th minute Toome burst through our defence and had another goal opportunity but the effort lacked power as Jamie Smith easily collected and kick-started a counter-attack that yielded a score after Mark McGuirk was dragged down and he was left with the simple task of tapping over to restore a one point lead. Both teams missed opportunities during the next couple of minutes with Toome kicking wide on the 17th and 18th minutes and a couple of minutes later an effort by Keelan Clerkin fell short and was cleared. Barry Patterson shipped a very heavy tackle along the sideline, on the 21st minute, that created a flowing move down the field and when Martin Carroll found himself in an attacking overlap position we thought our opening goal was on its way, but he fluffed his shot and the ball was cleared. However, moments later he made amends for his earlier miss when he dodged a couple of defenders, before neatly side-stepping to notch over a sweet point to extend our lead 0-4 to 0-2. Toome kicked wide on the 24th minute and two minutes later when Conor McGeough was brought down the resulting free-kick fell short. At this stage we hit a mini purple patch as we scored three unanswered points to open up a five point lead. The first score came from the boot of Mark McGuirk after he was fouled along the sideline but for dissent it was brought forward to a more scoreable position and he chipped the ball over the bar. The second arrived a minute later when Martin Carroll collected the ball from the kick-out and set-up Liam Connolly who bisected the posts with a splendid score and when Colin Reilly intercepted a pass he delivered an accurate pass up to Conor McGeough who teed up Ryan Sharkey for a sweet point to establish a commanding 0-7 to 0-2 lead at the break.
We started the second half the way we finished the first and within thirty seconds we stretched our advantage when Keelan Clerkin fielded spectacularly in front of goals and he set-up Mark McGuirk who fired over. One of the loudest cheers of the evening came moments later when Cathal Sheridan found himself in unfamiliar territory, as he made a burst forward, and when he collected the pass from Martin Carroll he finished in style. Colin Quinn was harshly penalized for a hand pass on the 3rd minute and Toome scored from the resulting free-kick. Barry Patterson kicked wide on the 6th minute and Toome closed the gap moments later when they pointed another free-kick. The pace died down a little and five minutes elapsed before the next score was registered when Keelan Clerkin weaved his way through the Toome defence and slotted over the bar a fine point to restore a six point advantage. The ensuing kick-out was broken down by Martin Carroll and Barry Patterson showed more eagerness to win the loose ball and when he delivered a measured pass out to Liam Connolly on the left wing he was pulled down and Mark McGuirk struck over a superb free-kick from the dead ball position to make it 0-11 to 0-4.
Amazingly, this would be our last score as Toome rallied and dominated the final quarter of the game but despite their best efforts they could not penetrate our “Rock Solid” defence. This was exemplified, on the 13th minute, when Pauric Reilly halted a Toome attack and cleared the danger. Shortly afterwards Toome were awarded a free-kick and their effort drifted narrowly wide but they did manage to narrow the gap when they converted a free-kick on the 16th minute to leave six points separating the sides. A couple of minutes later Barry Patterson, who put in a lot of hard work during the course of the game, dropped back to support his defence and he was alert to the danger and made a vital interception to clear his lines and after a patient buildup Anthony Tate collected and delivered a pin-point pass across to Mark McGuirk but on this occasion his effort was off-target. John Greenan was introduced to the game for Cathal Sheridan who retired injured (and slightly knackered!!!) as he ran himself into the ground and gave a powerful performance.
With the game approaching the final five minutes things were getting edgy and every time Toome got the ball close to our danger area there were heart stopping moments but our defence proved impenetrable with with Pauric Reilly, Colin Reilly, Rory Carroll and Barry Patterson all making a number of sterling tackles to foil the Toome attacks but they did manage to reduce the gap when they scored a neat point on the 27th minute to make it 0-11 to 0-6. With five points separating the sides we knew that once we didn’t concede a goal we would be save and the lads remained calm and with some stern defending did not allow them through for goal opportunity and they had to settle for another pointed free on the 29th minute to leave the margin four points. As the game entered injury time Toome went on the attack and just when it looked like the opportunity had passed, as we thought the Toome forward had taken too much out of the ball, the referee deemed he was fouled and awarded a free-kick and they delivered a high looping ball that just dropped over the bar and when the final whistle sounded, seconds later, it sparked off jubilant scenes, and some emotional ones too, as we secured victory and the inscription “ 2010 Rockcorry” will be etched into the history books forever. Despite a late surge from Toome the damage had already been done as a blistering five minute spell either side of the break sent us on our way to a fabulous victory. It’s unfair to pick out any one individual display for merit as the whole team was excellent. This was an ultimate team effort from number one to fifteen who started and those that came on. Everyone played for each other and this was reflected by the result. Fair-play to the management team of Anthony Tate, Pauric Carroll and Garry Calvert who deserve enormous credit for the work they did with the lads.