Rockcorry 1-12 Aughnamullen 1-13

Streamline Coaches Intermediate Football League, Round 17 – Saturday 9th October

Senior team left deflated after late, late, late goal

 Team: Jamie Smith, Colin Reilly, Damien Matthews, Garry Calvert, Martin Carroll, Niall McKeown, Stephen McGuirk 0-1, Barry Patterson, Mark Daly 0-4, Keelan Clerkin 0-1, Colin Quinn, Noel Carroll 1-3, Mark McGuirk, Paul McKeown 0-2, Dwayne Rooney 0-1. Subs: Liam Connolly for Dwayne Rooney.

If ever the cliché “snatching victory from the jams of defeat” was apt, then surely it applies to the Aughnamullen side as they grabbed a late, late winner to secure the victory on a score-line Rockcorry 1-12 Aughnamullen 1-13. As a result our hopes of qualifying for a semi-final position were swept away in the cruelest and most agonizing fashion and our interest in this year’s league season is now over and while we still have one game remaining its relevance is meaningless and once again we finish the league in fifth place for the third year in a row. It is often said that “a picture paints a thousand words” and no amount of words will ever describe the heartbreak suffered as it was very obvious from the expressions on everyone’s faces that they were shocked and sickened and left wondering what they’d done to deserve such wicked treatment!

The game was played on Saturday 9th October in nearly perfect conditions and Aughnamullen had the benefit of a slight wind advantage during the first half and had the first chance to register a score but they kicked wide after twenty seconds. Dwayne Rooney opened our account shortly afterwards with a lovely point following good approach play by Colin Quinn, Keelan Clerkin, Mark Daly and Noel Carroll. Aughnamullen replied instantly with a fine point from play and should have gone ahead thirty seconds later but their effort at the uprights was off-target. On the 4th minute, Niall McKeown made a powerful solo run and when he off-loaded to Keelan Clerkin his attempt at the uprights was narrowly wide. The ensuing kick-out was won by Martin Carroll and he found Keelan Clerkin who delivered a pass into Mark McGuirk but it was too strong as it went over the end-line.

Martin Carroll has the ball firmly in his grasp as he attempts to pass his opponent

 Colin Reilly was adjudged to have fouled his opponent on the 6th minute and the referee awarded a free-kick where the ball landed and the Aughnamullen free-taker made no mistake tapping over from close range. Aughnamullen extended their lead a minute later when they were awarded a sideline ball and they hoofed a long high ball into our danger area and it fell nicely for an Aughnamullen player who fired over the bar to make it 0-1 to 0-3. On the 8th and 9th minutes we were guilty of wasting a couple of scoring chances with Noel Carroll and Barry Patterson kicking wide on both occasions. However, a minute later Noel Carroll made amends for his earlier miss when he blasted the ball to the back of the net following a well-engineered move involving Martin Carroll and Dwayne Rooney. On the 13th minute, Aughnamullen equalised from a pointed free-kick after Garry Calvert initially fouled his opponent along the side-line but the referee brought the ball in-field for dissent which ultimately gave them a lot easier chance. A high tackle on Barry Patterson a minute later resulted with Mark Daly taking a quick free to Paul McKeown who skipped past his marker and slotted over a sweet point to restore our slender lead. Aughnamullen responded, on the 18th minute, when they pointed from a free-kick after Damien Matthews fouled his opponent and moments later they regained the lead after we were guilty of some careless passing out of defence. That lead didn’t last long as Mark McGuirk was hauled down thirty seconds later and Mark Daly made no mistake with the free-kick to draw the sides level once again 1-3 to 0-6.

Niall McKeown bursts through the challenge

 Martin Carroll made a tremendous block on the 21st minute but unfortunately Colin Reilly was penalised for touching the ball on the ground and Aughnamullen kicked the resulting kick wide. Good defending by Damien Matthews and Garry Calvert foiled an Aughnamullen attack and we launched a brisk counter-attack and when Paul McKeown collected the ball his initial shot at goals was saved by the goal-keeper and he pounced on the rebound but his second attempt came back off the upright and when Mark McGuirk latched onto the loose ball his effort was blocked and Aughnamullen survived to clear the danger and when Keelan Clerkin brought down his opponent it resulted in a free-kick where the ball landed and they tapped over from close range.

Damien Matthews clears the danger

Barry Patterson kicked wide on the 26th minute and when Barry was fouled a couple of minutes later he took a quick free to Dwayne Rooney whose effort at the uprights was off-target. Aughnamullen, on the other hand, increased their lead when they pumped another high ball into our danger zone and when Damien Matthews was adjudged to have fouled his opponent they scored the free-kick. It took a good save from Jamie Smith to deny Aughnamullen a goal on the 28th minute as he diverted the ball for a forty-five which ultimately led to nothing but they did manage to stretch their advantage when the referee awarded a free-kick, for something only he saw, and they duly converted to leave the score at the break Rockcorry 1-3 Aughnamullen 0-9.

Mark Daly puts his opponent under pressure

On the restart it was all about which team wanted it the most and which team could take it to the next level and the first ten minutes of the second half the lads displayed some of the best football, I have seen all year, as they powered their way back from a three point deficit to a two point lead. Mark Daly got the ball rolling when he sailed over a monstrous point within twenty seconds of the throw-in and when our forwards put incredible pressure on the Aughnamullen defenders they were awarded a free-kick and Stephen McGuirk bisected the posts with a fine strike to reduce the margin back to a single point. Two minutes later Keelan Clerkin levelled proceedings when he notched over a great point following good work by Niall McKeown.

Stephen McGuirk does well to keep possession of the ball despite close marking from his opponent

Good defending by Stephen McGuirk a minute later kick-started another attack and when Mark Daly was dragged down he got the chance to take the lead and he duly obliged. On the 7th minute, efficient defending by Colin Quinn and Martin Carroll prevented Aughnamullen the chance to equalize. Mark Daly added another point moments later after good approach play by Barry Patterson and Keelan Clerkin to leave the score 1-8 to 0-9. We were guilty of losing possession on the 9th minute and Aughnamullen took full advantage as they closed the deficit back to a single point. Noel Carroll restored our two point lead with a glorious long range point following an intricate build up that included Garry Calvert, Niall McKeown and Colin Quinn.

Barry Patterson rises to break the high ball

However, Aughnamullen just would not go away and closed the gap back to a single point when they scored on the 13th minute. It was at this stage of the game that we amassed some very poor wides from decent positions and one wonders if these had between the uprights would the final result been any different? Firstly, Colin Quinn kicked wide on the 14th minute, the was followed by Keelan Clerkin a minute later and when Barry Patterson collected a pass from Martin Carroll his attempt at the uprights also drifted wide. An effort by Mark Daly, on the 17th minute, fell short and the goal-keeper initiated a counter-attack and when they delivered a high ball into our goal-mouth area the ball spilled loose and the Aughnamullen corner-forward collected and pointed from thirteen metres to make it all square 1-9 to 0-12.

Its my ball, not yours! Colin Quinn has a frim grip of the ball

 We regained the lead on the 19th minute when Noel Carroll fired over a lovely point after receiving the ball from Mark McGuirk and we extended our advantage a minute later after Jamie Smith left his goal-line and made a courageous interception to instigate probably one of the best moves of the game that included a number of players and when Noel Carroll collected he fired over a sublime point to go two points up. Aughnamullen kicked wide on the 22nd minute and we spurned a wonderful opportunity on the 25th minute to extend our lead but for some unknown reason no player wanted to take the responsibility and after a number of passes across the face of the goals it eventually went wide.

Come back here...Colin Quinn reaches out to win the loose ball

The game was now at a crucial phase and Aughnamullen stayed in touch with a neat point to close the gap back to a solitary point and two minutes they had another opening to level matters but on this occasion they kicked wide. We restored a two point advantage on the 28th minute when Paul McKeown fended off two challenges and slotted over a delightful point. At this juncture things were looking good, everything seemed okay, two points up with two minutes of normal time remaining and we appeared to be in control of the game and one would off hoped that we had enough experience and composure to see out the game. However, the game took a sudden twist two minutes into injury time as we started to play ‘keep-ball’ and while it worked for a while we lost possession and with a number of our players committed up the field, Aughnamullen parted our defence like the Red Sea to smash home a goal to leave the scoreboard showing Rockcorry 1-12 Aughnamullen 1-13.

Colin Quinn is on hand to clear his defence...while Niall McKeown and his opponent have a disagreement!

 I imagine many people will suffer nightmares as a result of this game and  will wonder what more we needed to do and really this loss is a bitter pill to swallow, especially considering Inniskeen lost out against Tyholland! However, if I am entirely honest we did have several really good chances to put the game to bed but we failed to convert possession onto the scoreboard aided with some basic errors in giving away possession that ultimately allowed Aughnamullen to stay in touch and it certainly came back to haunt us. It was tough on the lads who had put up a brave second half fight back and deserved to get something from the game. But that’s football; it can be so cruel sometimes, one week you could be on cloud nine and the next you could be down in the gutters and last Saturday (9th October) it was plain to see the heartbreak etched on the faces of every Rock person.