Rockcorry 0-17 Carrickmacross 3-10

Seniors lose out in tight contest

Our senior team played Carrickmacross in the Monaghan Electrical intermediate football league this evening, Wednesday 16th April, and a number of clichés can be applied to this highly entertaining and physical battle but that very old and worn cliché that ‘goals win games’ seems the most appropriate one to use as three first half goals ultimately proved a huge obstacle to overcome as Carrickmacross secured the victory by a margin on two points with a final score-line of Rockcorry 0-17 Carrickmacross 3-10.

Carrickmacross opened the scoring after just thirty-five seconds from the throw-in with a tidy point but shortly afterwards we equalised when Mark Daly went on a trademark solo run and finished in style. We controlled the next six minutes and during a dominant spell we scored three points without reply. Firstly, when Lorcan Smyth was brought down on the 4th minute, Mark Daly seized the initiative and took the free-kick quickly to Lorcan Smyth who dissected the uprights with a lovely curling effort. A minute later, Noel Carroll edged us further in front when he raced through on goals and unleashed a powerful shot which the Carrickmacross goal-keeper pulled off a good save to deflect the ball over the bar. Finally, Paul McKeown put three between the sides following good defending by Keith Daly and Martin Carroll to leave the scoreboard showing Rockcorry 0-4 Carrickmacross 0-1 after eight minutes.

Unfortunately, all that good work was wiped out, on the 9th minute, when Carrickmacross scored their first goal after launching a high harmless looking ball into our goal-mouth area that deceived Dean Fay as the ball cannoned off the upright and bounced into an empty net. We reacted positively and when Dean Fay intercepted a pass across the small square the play moved quickly down the field and when Anthony Tate collected the ball he split the posts with an excellent effort to restore our slender advantage which was short-lived as Carrickmacross pointed thirty seconds later to tie up the game 0-5 to 1-2. On the 13th minute, Mark Daly registered a great monstrous point from a tight angle along the right wing but within a couple of minutes Carrickmacross broke through our rear-guard and found the back of the net in style to lead 0-6 to 2-2 midway through the first half.

Paul McKeown kicked wide on the 17th minute but just a minute or so later he made amends with a signature score following a patient build-up that involved Martin Carroll, Noel Carroll and Stephen McGuirk. Carrickmacross replied with a neat point on the 22nd minute and when Noel Carroll was blatantly and cynically pulled down moments later no cards were issued which obviously shocked and enraged many people along the side-line, including one individual who had a ‘Joe Brolly’ moment and roared for the mandatory black-card for such a rugby tackle but fell on deaf ears! Anyway, moving on with the game, the resultant free-kick was delivered to Dwayne Rooney who moved the ball quickly to Lorcan Smyth and he off-loaded to Paul McKeown and with quick hands teed-up Martin Carroll who played a lovely ball into Colin Quinn and he slotted the ball over the bar for a quality finish to reduce the gap to a single point, 0-8 to 2-3. Carrickmacross converted a free-kick on the 25th minute and the ensuing kick-out was aggressively broken down by Martin Carroll and Keelan Clerkin was first to react and threaded a lovely ball through to Lorcan Smyth who picked out Paul McKeown and he cut inside his opponent and fired over a classy point from twenty-five metres.

A feature of the match was some truly outstanding defending by team captain Niall McKeown who throughout the game defined the art of skilful defending and quite simply it was poetry in motion as the young defender gave a faultless exhibition. This was illustrated on the 27th minute, and on many more occasions during the game, when he made a timely challenge to deny a Carrickmacross score and with a swift move down the field that involved Dean Fay, Conor McGeough and Noel Carroll who set-up Colin Quinn and he finished a superb move with a nice score to leave the sides level 0-10 to 2-4. The visitors regained the lead a minute later with a fine point and moments later they took advantage when unfortunately a mis-directed kick-out went straight into the hands of a Carrickmacross player and with just the keeper to beat they bagged their third goal to put some daylight between the sides, leading 0-10 to 3-5. We struck back instantly when Lorcan Smyth completed the action of the first half with another super kick to leave the score at the half-time interval Rockcorry 0-11 Carrickmacross 3-5.

When play resumed, Jamie Smith was introduced for Dean Fay, and we started the second half strongly with Lorcan Smyth pointing after just thirty-seconds following a neat build-up that included Stephen McGuirk and Noel Carroll. Mark Daly kicked wide a minute later and shortly afterwards we witnessed the first black card of year, at senior level, when Dwayne Rooney received his marching orders for an early shower and he was subsequently replaced by the evergreen Garry Calvert. (On another topic, they say it’s an ill wind that blows no good and I have been reliably informed that Andrew Carroll collected a nice lump sum for correctly predicting the first black-card recipient…well done Andrew).

The next ten minutes of the game were evenly contested with both teams exchanging points in a tit-for-tat nature. Carrickmacross pointed from a free-kick on the 5th minute to maintain a three point advantage and when Lorcan Smyth was brought down on the 8th minute he dusted himself down, stepped up and confidently fired over a lovely point to reduce the arrears back to two points. Carrickmacross hit back with a point from a dead ball that was sweetly struck off the ground and landed directly over the black-spot for a fabulous score. The impressive Paul McKeown, showed that he wore his kicking boots to the game and produced another top-drawer finish on the 11th minute to cut the gap back to two points before Carrickmacross restored their three point advantage when they capitalised on us losing possession and after a short debate the score was eventually awarded by the referee, and the white flag was raised, to leave the score 0-14 to 3-8 after twelve minutes.

Stephen McGuirk was fouled on the 15th minute and while the ball was brought up for dissent it was taken quickly but regrettably it led to nothing! At this juncture, we stepped it up a notch and on the 17th minute Noel Carroll delivered a measured pass to Mark Daly down the right wing and he curled over a cracking point to leave two points between the sides. This ignited a spark in the team and while Lorcan Smyth had scoring opportunities on the 18th and 19th minutes both efforts narrowly steered away from the target. However, Paul McKeown, who was a real menace in attack earned the team a free-kick on the 20th minute and Mark Daly duly tapped over for a routine score to leave the bare minimum separating the sides. Martin Carroll, who worked and foraged endlessly throughout the contest kicked wide on the 24th minute but a minute later he atoned for his earlier miss with some tenacious tackling and he won possession back and as he bore down on goals, he probably considered the goal option, but wisely produced an excellent delicate finish to draw the sides level with five minutes remaining to play.

With time running out the game was anyone’s and with intensity levels very high I imagine the nails of both sets of supporters became very worn as both teams produced some ferocious tackles and many gut wrenching collisions in order to gain the upper hand and claim the spoils. Although, we did enjoy our fair share of possession during the closing stages and despite the lads best efforts to eke out a winner we didn’t add any further scores to our tally and in spite of some firm defending by Niall McKeown, Keith Daly and Conor McGeough they (Carrickmacross) were awarded a free-kick, on the 28th minute, which they duly converted to restore their advantage and as the clock ticked down they wrapped up the scoring with another fine point in stoppage time to clinch the victory on a score-line Rockcorry 0-17 Carrickmacross 3-10.

In retrospect, it’s hard to believe we lost the game after accumulating an amazing seventeen points! It’s undoubtedly hard to lose such an exciting and close match, but I have to say, it was a brave effort and an outstanding fight-back to draw level during the second half. The lads competed well against one of the top teams in the division and moving forward they should have learned lessons which hopefully they will take into the next match. They definitely showed their mettle and spirit and we all know they have the character to bounce back from this small blip. As the old saying goes you have to make the most of your hard earned possession and in tight games like this it is certainly very  true. Hard luck lads keep those heads held high for the next encounter which is against Sean McDermott’s on Friday 2nd May.

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Team & Scorers: Dean Fay, Conor McGeough, Niall McKeown, Cathal Sheridan, Noel Carroll (0-1), Keith Daly, Keelan Clerkin, Martin Carroll (0-1), Mark Daly (0-4,1f), Lorcan Smyth (0-4,1f), Paul McKeown (0-4), Colin Quinn (0-2), Stephen McGuirk, Dwayne Rooney & Anthony Tate (0-1). Subs: Jamie Smith for Dean Fay, Damien Matthews for Cathal Sheridan and Eoin Fitzpatrick for Colin Quinn.