Rock Heart secures historic intermediate league title
OMG what an amazing day! When the next chapter of history of the club is finally complied, 2012 will certainly be regarded as one of the milestones in the club’s history. Around, the village the great team of 1982 is still spoken of in reverential tones. It was a special occasion for the club claiming the McCaldin Shield as well as the Dr. Ward Cup and rightly deserves its immortal place in the annals of the club. However, the past belongs in the past and this year’s present crop of players has created their own piece of unique history because on Sunday 28th October they displayed remarkable guts and really stood up to be counted and used all their character to grind out an unbelievable victory to claim the Vincent McAviney Cup on a score-line Rockcorry 1-9 Doohamlet 1-7.
Unfortunately, the weather conditions for this final were far from pleasant, it was cold, wet and underfoot conditions were slippery and it was Doohamlet who stormed out of the blocks and were first to register a score on the 3rd minute and they doubled their advantage moments later when they converted a free-kick. Doohamlet remained in the ascendancy and cut through our defence and rifled the ball to the roof of the net on the 6th minute to lead 0-0 to 1-2. Mark Daly opened our account on the 9th minute when he tapped over a free-kick after Stephen Lynch was fouled but Doohamlet’s superiority continued and they added points on the 10th and 14th minutes to lead 0-1 to 1-4. We stayed in touch when Fergal McGeough converted a free-kick but a poor clearance down the other side gave Doohamlet a relatively simple chance to fire over to leave the scoreboard showing Rockcorry 0-2 Doohamlet 1-5 after nineteen minutes.
At this juncture it looked bleak and I imagine the thought on everyone’s mind was OMG not a repeat of the championship encounter where Doohamlet runaway with an easy victory! But cometh the hour, cometh the team and when heroes were needed they collectively produced an outstanding final ten minutes of the half to give ourselves a lifeline. Slowly but surely the wheel of momentum started to move in our direction as the lads found their mojo and turned things around. They started to contest every ball like their life depended on it and this ploy worked because Doohamlet did not know what hit them! Doohamlet may have go out of the blocks quicker in the early stages but it was we scored four points without reply to put a more respectable look on the scoreboard. Paul Mckeown pointed on the 20th minute following a patient build-up and when Niall McKeown broke down a Dooahmlet attack Lorcan Smyth showed good composure and fired between the uprights. Johnny Reilly who was among a number of players to be named man of the match hit two quite magnificent points on the 28th and 30th minutes to leave the score 0-6 to 1-5 and that’s the way it stayed until the break.
If the first half was physical, the second half was even harder as both sides knew the prize on offer. It was highly charged, competitive and the match referee let a lot of the tough exchanges go and it was certainly a day when you needed to have your Weetabix! We were first to register a score on the 6th minute when Fergal McGeough lobbed over a free-kick, after Paul McKeown was brought down, to reduce the arrears to a single point, 0-7 to 1-5. On the 8th minute, Jamie Smith in goals stopped what could only be described as unstoppable shot and denied Doohamlet a goal when he deflected the ball over the bar, 0-7 to 1-6. The game ebbed and flowed in different directions during the next ten minutes or so and remained scoreless with both side’s defences on top which gave credence to the paucity of scores. However, the pivotal moment of the game and undoubtedly the turning point arrived on the 21st minute when a precise crossfield pass by Noel Carroll to Stephen Lynch, who popped up on the edge of the square, and sweetly flicked the ball past the advancing Doohamlet goal-keeper to hit the net and put us ahead for the first time in the game leading 1-7 to 1-6. The roar from our supporters certainly raised the decibel levels to a new record and I even a baby was knocked from the mothers arms with all the excitement and jumping around (thankfully the baby was okay).
The sides were tied at 1-7 apiece, on the 26th minute, when Doohamlet fire over a neat point and the game was now throbbing with excitement as we entered the final stages. The remaining minutes were very tense, and were a gigantic struggle as the both teams refused to give an inch but we showed the greater hunger and upped the stakes that Doohamlet struggled to cope with. “Rock Heart” drove us forward and when Johnny Reilly stormed up the field at the beginning of additional time he was hauled down and it was the baby faced assassin Fergal McGeough who stood up to be counted and personified the essence of coolness and glided the ball between the uprights to put our noses in front. Possession from the kick-out was now vital and we fought like terriers to secure the ball and when we delivered a long ball into Fergal McGeough he slipped through the defence and was one-on-one with the Doohamlet goal-keeper and while a goal opportunity was there for the taken he wisely fisted the ball over the bar to put two points between the sides 1-9 to 1-7. Seconds later there was jubilant scenes as the sweet, sweet sound of the final whistle sounded that sent managers, players and our supporters in to a state of ecstasy. We are the Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League WINNERS.
On reflection, it was the collective force of the team that ultimately destroyed the spirits of Doohamlet. They fired everything they had at us, including the proverbial kitchen sink, and we took it on the chin and displayed great character, skill and resolve. After the match nervous settled we grew in confidence with each passing minute and oozed self-belief with every player working tirelessly. Our link play in attack often caught the eye but one of the key reasons for our victory was our rear guard where they kept the Doohamlet forward line under the cosh because they only scored twice during the last forty minutes. The real fairy-tale story, however, is the fact that long serving players Damien Matthews, Mark Daly, Keith Daly and Garry Calvert have finally won a medal (at any level) with the club. Well done lads.
After the match I caught up with club chairman Jimmy McGeough who was firstly relieved and overjoyed with the result: “I am delighted for the lads out there. We were under no illusions coming here today that it was going to be a very difficult game, a battle between two good sides. The lads were focused and expressed themselves very well throughout the game and thankfully the cup is coming back to Rock.” He added “great credit is due to all involved in this historic moment of the club. The excitement, happiness and smiles on the faces of everyone shows how much this means to the club.” He continued: “it certainly makes up for all the disappointments over the years. We wanted to win this very badly and can now look forward to facing the major challenge of senior football next year…..but we will worry about that next year….for now let’s celebrate this one.”
This concludes a very eventful and enjoyable football season. It was truly a remarkable year for the team and the club to win its first Intermediate football title and is arguably our finest hour. The exploits of the team have provided wonderful memories and in years to come we will look back on this achievement with pride. Looking ahead, as the chairman indicated next year playing senior football will certainly provide a different sort of challenge but for now let the good times “Rock & Roll”.
Team & Scorers: Jamie Smith, Conor McGeough, Damien Matthews, Niall McKeown, Johnny Reilly 0-2, Keith Daly, Stephen Lynch 1-0, Mark Daly 0-1, Barry Patterson, Keelan Clerkin, Paul McKeown 0-1, Lorcan Smyth 0-1, Mark McGuirk, Noel Carroll and Fergal McGeough 0-4. Subs: Garry Calvert for Lorcan Smyth and Martin Carroll for Keelan Clerkin.
For a selection of action photographs and celebrationg photographs please click the links below to visit our Flickr page.