Enthralling battle ends all square
Our senior team played their second game of the Monaghan Electrical intermediate football league yesterday evening (Saturday 12th April) when they entertained Inniskeen at Pairc Naomh Mhuire and had to settle for a share of the spoils after the sides played out an enthralling game of football. In what proved to be an extremely physical contest there were some really intriguing individual battles across the field where no quarter was asked or given and both teams deserve credit for maintaining the high standards and for playing the game in a very sporting manner. I imagine both sides will be slightly disappointed at not coming away with both league points but on balance of play I think a draw was probably the fairest result as both teams deserved to take something from this highly entertaining and thrilling battle that ended Rockcorry 2-12 Inniskeen 3-9.
The game was played on a bright spring evening in dry conditions and Inniskeen played with a noticeable breeze on the their backs during the first half and got off to a perfect start with a neat score after two minutes and they followed up this score six minutes later with a point from play to lead 0-0 to 0-2 after eight minutes. The game was temporarily suspended, for a couple of minutes, to allow Fergal McGeough receive treatment for a knee injury but sadly he was not fit to continue and was replaced by Stephen McGuirk who incidentally is just back after a lengthy spell recovering from a knee injury and we wish him all the best back wearing the green & white jersey in this year’s competitions.
Despite having lots of possession during the opening quarter we were unable to trouble the umpires but we gradually settled into our stride and when Dwayne Rooney was fouled, on the 14th minute, Mark Daly registered our first point. A couple of minutes later Lorcan Smyth and Martin Carroll combined well with a neat one-two to tee-up Mark Daly who was brought down and Lorcan Smyth converted the resultant free-kick to level proceedings on 0-2 apiece. We took the lead on the 19th minute when Mark Daly lobbed over an impressive free-kick after Anthony Tate was hauled down but sadly this was cancelled out instantly as Inniskeen landed a monstrous long-range free-kick to leave both teams on 0-3. Inniskeen had a scoring opportunity on the 23rd minute to regain their lead but kicked wide and two minutes later Mark Daly showed his accuracy and popped over another free-kick to restore our narrow lead 0-4 to 0-3.
Good approach play, on the 27th minute, from Colin Quinn, Keelan Clerkin and Martin Carroll set-up Paul McKeown who selfishly delivered an intelligent pass into Dwayne Rooney who blasted over from close range when a goal option seemed to be there for the taking. Lorcan Smyth kicked wide on the 28th minute before Inniskeen equalised from a free-kick and moments later they won the ensuing kick-out and with a swift attack tapped over to level the game 0-5 apiece. With half time looming, good defending by Conor McGeough, Keith Daly and Niall McKeown broke down a promising Inniskeen attack and with a swift counter-attack we broke down the field and Noel Carroll dissected the posts with a lovely point to leave the half time score Rockcorry 0-6 Inniskeen 0-5.
After the restart we upped the ante and took a firm grip on proceedings and in a spellbinding four minute period we scored three points without reply. Lorcan Smyth curled over a sweet point, on the 2nd minute, following good work by Noel Carroll and a minute later when Paul McKeown was brought down Lorcan Smyth showed coolness and lobbed over a nice free-kick. Paul McKeown extended our advantage to four points when he skipped away from his opponent after receiving a quality ball and finished in style to leave it 0-9 to 0-5. We were in good shape at this stage and were playing some free-flowing football and while we created further scoring opportunities, on the 5th and 8th minutes, our wide tally increased as efforts from Anthony Tate’s drifted wide. After a great first eight minutes of the half we paid a heavy price on the 9th minute when we lost possession on the twenty-one metre line. A promising attack that involved nearly everybody was intercepted by Inniskeen and with numerous players out of position the action moved quickly down the field and they bagged their first goal to wipe out all our good work.
Undeterred, we refused to panic and answered positively with a classy score from Mark Daly after Keelan Clerkin and Lorcan Smyth did all the hard work down the right wing. However, Inniskeen were always dangerous and pointed on the 12th minute with a fine score and soon restored parity with another top-drawer point to leave the scoreboard reading Rockcorry 0-10 to Inniskeen 1-7. As the game progressed it became a true battle and when Noel Carroll was fouled on the 15th minute Mark Daly took his trademark step and delivered a quality kick, from a difficult angle, right between the uprights to edge us back in front but again this was immediately cancelled out as down the other end Inniskeen from a very tight angle equalised. On the 20th minute, the lads did a great job at policing the Inniskeen attack with some resolute defending but unfortunately they struck another major blow when we forced them to launch a hopeful ‘Hail Mary’ ball into our square and the break fell kindly into the path of the Inniskeen player who drove a powerful shot to rattle the net and this was followed soon after by a neat point to give them a four point margin, leading 0-11 to 2-9.
At this juncture there was perhaps a slight sense that the game was gradually slipping away from us but the lads to their credit never surrendered and responded with probably the best move and score of the game. It arrived on the 24th minute, and like two cheetah’s pursuing prey, Niall McKeown and Noel Carroll, combined with a pulsating run up the field, that left a trail of bewildered opponents dazed with their devastating burst of pace and when Martin Carroll collected the ball he twisted and danced his way through the Inniskeen defence and unleashed an unstoppable shot beyond the Inniskeen goal-keeper for an inspirational score and more importantly closed the margin to the minimum leaving the score 1-11 to 2-9 going into the final five minutes of the contest.
The match was being played at a ferocious level with strong & powerful collisions right across the field but incredibly the pace of the game went up another notch and Inniskeen had a chance to restore a four point advantage when they breached our rear-guard but Dean Fay showed quick reactions and produced a brilliant instinctive save to deny them a goal scoring opportunity. With our tails now up we sensed the possibility of retrieving the situation and our team captain Niall McKeown led by example and when he was brought down approximately around the thirty metre line we had a decent chance to level the match but on this occasion Lorcan Smyth’s effort at the target drifted narrowly wide. With time ticking away their was definitely some squeaky bums on both sides and the pressure was now on to get an equalising score and when Dwayne Rooney collected the ball on the 29th minute he amazingly held his nerve and with the outside of his right foot kicked a blockbuster score to tie the contest at 1-12 to 2-9 but amazing and surprisingly there was still plenty of time left for some late, late drama!!!
With the game now finely poised there was a remarkable conclusion to this energy sapping clash and two minutes into additional time Lorcan Smyth got himself into a great position and was through one-on-one with the Inniskeen goal-keeper and while his initial shot was partly saved he reacted the quickest and showed great athleticism to dive on the rebound and punched the ball it into an empty net to put us three points ahead. The game was now at the mercy of the referee and with no sign of the final whistle sounding Inniskeen threw the proverbial kitchen sink at us in a determined bid to get something from the game and when they were awarded a free-kick on the 34th minute they landed a high looping ball into a crowded goal-mouth and while it was contested it was flicked into the back of the net and moments later the whistle sounded with the game ending all square Rockcorry 2-12 Inniskeen 3-9.
To view more action shots from the game please click the link below to visit our Flickr page.
Team & Scorers: Dean Fay, Conor McGeough, Niall McKeown, Cathal Sheridan, Noel Carroll (0-1), Keith Daly, Keelan Clerkin, Mark Daly (0-5,4f) Martin Carroll (1-0), Lorcan Smyth (1-3,2f) Paul McKeown (0-1), Colin Quinn, Fergal McGeough & Dwayne Rooney (0-2). Subs: Stephen McGuirk for Fergal McGeough (injured), Eoin Fitzpatrick for Colin Quinn.