Seniors rue missed chances
Unlike previous weeks where the sun was shining gloriously with all its might and we were all walking about with tee-shirts and shorts it was the complete opposite to perfect playing conditions when our senior team returned to action on Wednesday 31st July, after a ten week spell in the wilderness, to play Monaghan Harps in the Drumlin Credit Union senior football league. The weather was atrocious and the proverbial raining cats & dogs springs to mind but while it was appalling conditions for a match the two sides served up a very competitive game and in fairness, the small crowd of supporters who braved the elements witnessed a very exciting, tough and evenly contested match.
In the absence of key players such as team captain Keith Daly, Conor McGeough & Fergal McGeough through injuries we started the match brightly and got the first score of the game, on the 3rd minute, with a superb point from Lorcan Smyth who linked up well following a patient build-up that involved Mark Daly, Stephen Lynch and Martin Carroll. Monaghan Harps responded swiftly however and hit back with a fine point almost immediately. We regained the lead two minutes later when Keelan Clerkin delivered a perfectly weighted cross-field pass to Martin Carroll, who had timed his run into space to perfection, and finished in style with a sweet tap over. We continued to control proceedings and when Lorcan Smyth was brought down Mark McGuirk stroked effortlessly over the bar to put us two points in front, leading 0-3 to 0-1 after nine minutes.
The next three minutes were riddled with poor finishing as we recorded three consecutive wides. The first coming from the boot of Mark Daly who kicked wide on the 10th minute, the second came a minute later from Noel Carroll, who obviously had a severe rush of blood to the head or something, when his attempt at the target was closer to the corner flag than the uprights and shortly afterwards an attempt from Martin Carroll went narrowly wide off the target. Monaghan Harps also spurned scoring chances on the 13th and 15th minutes before Paul McKeown slipped a neat ball through to Mark McGuirk who raced through and smashed a blistering shot off the crossbar, which the Monaghan Harps goalkeeper could only watch whistle by him, and rebounded over the bar for a point to lead 0-4 to 0-1. While the lads showed plenty of grit & determination and there were many strong performances right across the field it was unfortunate that for the remainder of the first half we gift wrapped a couple of scores with over-elaboration, being caught in possession and wayward passing. Monaghan Harps, obviously, capitalised on these mistakes and the game decisively swung in their advantage as they produced their most profitable spell of the game that yielded four unanswered points to go in at the break leading Rockcorry 0-4 Monaghan Harps 0-5.
The game resumed in typical fashion after the break and when Paul McKeown was taken down after thirty seconds we had a great opportunity to level the game but sadly Mark McGuirk’s free-kick effort drifted to the left and wide of the target. Jamie Smith showed great awareness on the 2nd minute when he reacted with speed to make a fine save but unluckily the rebound dropped to a Monaghan Harps player who lobbed the ball over the ball to stretch their advantage. Things could have been better because we were given a lifeline on the 5th minute when the referee awarded us with a penalty following an innocuous scramble in the large parallelogram involving Mark McGuirk. Dwayne Rooney stepped up to take the penalty and normally very reliable and accurate but on this occasion he drove the spot kick wide.
Monaghan Harps increased their lead to three points when they converted a free-kick on the 9th minute and with weather conditions starting to take their toll, scores were hard come by, it was six minutes before another score was registered. Noel Carroll, who was doing his best to start a fight back, earned a free-kick on the 15th minute following a surging run from midfield through the Monaghan Harps defence and Lorcan Smyth made no mistake with the resultant free-kick and coolly popped it over the bar. Dwayne Rooney kicked wide on the 16th minute and a couple of minutes later the Monaghan Harps goal-keeper did extremely well to deny Mark Daly a goal scoring opportunity with a point blank save and while Dwayne Rooney reacted quickest to claim the loose ball his effort to find the net, when perhaps a fist over the bar was the better option, went agonisingly wide.
On the 22nd minute, Niall McKeown, for such a young player showed the maturity level beyond his years, as he displayed great ability and somehow snuffed out a promising Monaghan Harps attack with a truly spectacular, full stretch block to deny his opponent a scoring opportunity and concede a forty-five which was duly kicked wide. However, Monaghan Harps did manage to raise a white flag moments later following an intercepted hand pass out of defence. Colin Quinn decided to go forward on the 25th minute and his efforts were rewarded with a free-kick and Dwayne Rooney duly obliged to reduce the gap to leave two points separating the sides. At this stage the game was nicely balanced and the next score would prove crucial and with injury time looming Monaghan Harps just seemed to have that extra gear or greater cuteness and laboured for another free-kick which they lobbed over to widen the gap to three points. While we pushed forward and applied a lot of pressure in search of an equalising score our efforts were to be in vain as we found it extremely difficult to break through and crack the Monaghan Harps rear-guard and as the game ticked into added time Monaghan Harps sealed the victory when they duly converted a free-kick to leave the final score Rockcorry 0-6 Monaghan Harps 0-10.
Team & Scorers: Jamie Smith, Damien Matthews, Niall McKeown, Colin Quinn, Johnny Reilly, Stephen Lynch, Keelan Clerkin, Mark Daly, Noel Carroll, Martin Carroll (0-1), Lorcan Smyth (0-2), Garry Calvert, Paul McKeown, Mark McGuirk (0-2), Dwayne Rooney (0-1). Subs: Anthony Tate for Johnny Reilly (injured)
To view a selection of action photographs please click the link below to visit our Flickr page.