Honour in Defeat!
Our senior team travelled to Aughnamullen on Friday 14th June to take on Ballybay in the preliminary round of the Gormley uPVC senior football championship and while I smiled and chattered amicably, if I’m totally truthful my mind was elsewhere with large parts of the game remaining hazy and fuzzy! However, what was very noticeable was the gutsy performance from the lads as they certainly wore their hearts on their sleeves and battled manfully throughout the contest displaying admirable spirit, passion and they really put it up to the reigning county champions. While we suffered a defeat, in my mind, it was a defeat with honour, we remained competitive throughout the game and the lads can hold their heads up high after a tremendous effort that almost yielded a famous win! In fairness, Ballybay are not the reigning champions for nothing and their county stars together with their experience and superior craft ultimately proved the difference as they edged over the line after a hard-fought encounter to secure the win on a final score-line Rockcorry 1-6 Ballybay 0-13 and on behalf of the club I wish them all the best in future rounds of the competition.
Sadly, the recent spell of lovely sunshine disappeared because the game was played in absolutely atrocious weather conditions with wind, rain and slippery underfoot conditions making it virtually impossible to play some good football but both sides have to be applauded for the quality of football displayed. We hit the ground running and started the brighter and our wholehearted approach was evident right from the throw –in as the lads came out with fire in their bellies and deservedly led after the first ten minutes. Mark McGuirk blasted over our first point following good approach play by Noel Carroll and Johnny Reilly and while Dwayne Rooney kicked wide on the 9th minute he made amends a minute later with a terrific point from a tight angle to put us two ahead. Ballybay remained unfazed and opened their account on the 13th minute with a fine point from play and they quickly equalised with a classy score from county star Paul Finlay that dissected the uprights to leave both sides on 0-2 apiece after fourteen minutes. Fergal McGeough was off-target, on the 15th minute, and at this juncture the men in maroon took control of the game and hit three points in quick succession to open up a comfortable three point cushion.
With twenty minutes gone we were awarded a penalty, following a foul on Fergal McGeough, and from the resultant spot kick sharpshooter Dwayne Rooney showed nerves of steel and coolly converted the penalty to draw the sides level Rockcorry 1-2 Ballybay 0-5. We went in front a couple of minutes later when Fergal McGeough tapped over a free-kick following a foul on Paul McKeown and shortly afterwards he had another opening but on this occasion his attempt at the uprights drifted narrowly wide. Ballybay missed a scoring opportunity on the 25th minute but in a devastating two minute spell that yielded three unanswered points they put themselves back in the driving seat to leave the score-board showing Rockcorry 1-3 Ballybay 0-8 at the half-time interval. When play resumed Ballybay kicked wide after one minute but they edged further ahead when they pointed from a free-kick on the 6th minute. Even though the lads continued to put in a powerful performance and applied a lot of pressure our free-taking proved to be our Achilles heel with three attempts, on the 7th , 8th and 10th minutes, either dropping short or going wide. However, Paul McKeown got us back on track when he pointed in style on the 12th minute following a good build-up involving Noel Carroll, Johnny Reilly and Stephen Lynch to reignite our challenge and when Lorcan Smyth surged forward, only moments later, he split the posts with an excellent point to close the deficit to a single point, 1-5 to 0-9.
While our efforts was undoubtedly wholehearted it proved a false dawn as all hopes of a thrilling finale evaporated because it was not long before the impressive county champions emphasised their superiority of class and during the next eight minutes their dominance was patently obvious as they outplayed us and tacked on four points without reply on the 17th, 20th, 22nd and 25th minutes to put them in a commanding position, leading 1-5 to 0-13 with five minutes left to play. As time ticked away the lads did not throw in the towel and they continued to battle hard and Fergal McGeough added a fine point on the 26th minute but unfortunately that proved to be the last score of the game as it finished Rockcorry 1-6 Ballybay 0-13.
The match was not a dirty game but rather you’re typical niggling and tense affair where no quarter was asked or given from either team. It was full of championship vigour where both sets of players were fully committed and battled hard in difficult conditions. Despite losing the game by four points against strong opposition it was a determined effort and there are plenty of positives to take away from the performance. All the players must be commended for their never say die attitude, their fighting spirit and moving forward this performance should give the players and management a psychological boost and lift their confidence. Our attitude and our intensity levels were right and the task now must obviously be to transfer that same level of intensity, passion and commitment to our league form.
To view a selection of action photographs from the game please click the link below.
Team & Scorers: Dean Fay, Keith Daly, Niall McKeown, Lorcan Smyth, Johnny Reilly, Noel Carroll, Stephen Lynch, Mark Daly, Keelan Clerkin, Martin Carroll, Paul McKeown, Conor McGeough, Dwayne Rooney, Mark McGuirk and Fergal McGeough. Subs: Damien Matthews for Keelan Clerkin and Anthony Tate for Lorcan Smyth (injured).