Senior team hold-on to secure hard-earned win!
Following our memorable semi-final encounters in last year’s intermediate football championship there was keen interest in how the team could reverse the recent trend of losing competitive games narrowly to Corduff. The old mantra of “a win is a win is a win” was undoubtedly the most used sentence by many relieved Rockcorry supporters leaving the Drumhowan grounds yesterday evening (Saturday 7th July). Because, in truth, we almost contrived to lose the game, a game where we looked certain to win with twenty-five minutes played in the second half at which stage we led by 3-7 to 0-11 and it seemed at this juncture that we would win with a bit to spare. However, Corduff refused to throw-in the towel and took the game to us and scored four unanswered points to come perilously close to pulling off what would have been a sensational comeback! Thankfully, we were able to hold on, by the skin of our teeth, to win a pulsating game of football by the narrowest of margins on the final score-line Rockcorry 3-7 Corduff 0-15.
With sunshine making a welcome appearance the Drumhowan venue looked resplendent as this first round McGuigan Builders intermediate football championship match got underway. Wind assisted Corduff played with the elements first and enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and opened the scoring after just forty seconds and doubled their advantage a couple of minutes later with another fine point from play to lead, 0-0 to 0-2 after three minutes.
Once we settled down we registered our first score on the 7th minute with a superb point by Noel Carroll and shortly afterwards we were level when Fergal McGeough sailed over a sweet point following good work by Johnny Reilly. An effort by Noel Carroll hit the upright and drifted wide, on the 9th minute, but we did manage to forge ahead moments later courtesy of a lovey point from Stephen Lynch. The tit-for-tat nature of the game continued with Corduff raising the white flag on the 12th minute but down the other end we replied on the 17th minute when Keelan Clerkin collected a short free-kick from Stephen McGuirk and bisected the uprights with a splendid score to restore our lead, 0-4 to 0-3.
Keelan Clerkin was harshly adjudged to have lifted the ball on the 18th minute and Corduff instigated a swift counterattack and notched over a splendid point to once again level proceedings at 0-4 to 0-4. Fergal McGeough showed his capabilities moments later when he guided the ball between the posts from long distance following good work by Mark Daly but Corduff refused to go away and landed an excellent point on the 22nd minute to draw the sides level again with 0-5 apiece.
Corduff kicked wide on the 24th and 25th minutes but did manage to take the lead on the 26th minute with another fine score from play. From a neutrals point of view the game produced some excellent and outstanding football over the hour and as indicated by the final score-line, our three goals proved to be the difference and our first goal was particularly courageous. Lorcan Smyth lobbed the ball goal-wards on the 28th minute and while the Corduff goal-keeper came out to deal with the danger, Mark McGuirk showed tremendous bravery and guts to contest the ball and flick the ball into an empty net. That goal helped us into a 1-5 to 0-6 lead but Corduff had the last say of the first half when they pointed from play to leave the scoreboard showing Rockcorry 1-5 Corduff 0-7 at the interval.
Within twenty seconds of the restart Mark Daly made a further telling contribution with a terrific point from play. The game was temporarily stopped on the 3rd minute to allow a Corduff player receive treatment for a suspected shoulder injury and subsequently he had to retire early from the game and on behalf of the club we extend our best wishes and a speedy recovery. When the game resumed Corduff kicked wide on the 5th minute before Noel Carroll eased the pressure, slightly, when he bagged our second goal with a cute toe-poke past the advancing Corduff goal-keeper to extend our advantage to five points, leading 2-6 to 0-7. Corduff narrowed the deficit with a fine point from play on the 10th minute and just a couple minutes later our team spirit was exemplified when team captain Keith Daly made an outstanding block to deny Corduff a possible goal opportunity!
During the next passage of play we enjoyed plenty of possession and created a couple of scoring chances but lacked the clinical finish to take advantage with Fergal McGeough kicking wide on the 11th minute and Stephen McGuirk landing a free-kick short on the 13th minute. Corduff stayed in touch when they pointed on the 15th minute but that score was quickly nullified with a wonderful individual score by Noel Carroll, who showed he wouldn’t be out of place competing in this year’s Olympic Games against the fastest man on the planet Usain Bolt, because when he collected the ball around the midfield area he showed lightning pace to slice through the Corduff defence before fisting the ball over the bar to leave it 2-7 to 0-9.
Lorcan Smyth kicked wide on the 17th minute while Corduff converted free-kicks on the 19th and 20th minute to reduce the margin back to a couple of points, 2-7 to 0-11. On the 23rd minute Corduff spurned a wonderful scoring opportunity when they kicked a free-kick wide and at this stage we were forced to work ferociously hard all over the field as Corduff upped the ante and we were guilty of standing back and inviting them to run at us too much!
The old adage that goals win games proved correct and it was our ability to convert possession into green flags that proved the ultimate factor as we pounced for our third goal on the 25th minute when Johnny Reilly unleashed a tremendous shot to hit the back of the net after a flowing move. That green flag edged us five points ahead and proved to be our last score and with five minutes remaining on the clock the scoreboard showed Rockcorry 3-7 Corduff 0-11.
As the contest moved into the last three minutes of normal time Corduff’s response was decisive as they piled on the pressure and threw everything at us and scored four unanswered points. The first came from a routine free-kick on the 27th minute and moments later Jamie Smith denied them a goal when he pulled off a truly magnificent save to deflect the ball around the post for a forty-five which they duly converted. The deficit was now down to a goal and they tapped over another free-kick on the 29th minute and during added time they notched over a neat point from play to leave just the bare minimum separating the side, 3-7 to 0-15.
To say the atmosphere along the side-line was tense is an understatement because it was nerve-racking and I imagine our supporters in the crowd were living on their nerves too because at this juncture Corduff went in search of some tangible reward from a gripping encounter and two minutes into injury time they came close to getting an equaliser but their effort drifted wide. Moments later the sweet, sweet sound of the final whistle sounded and you could hear the theme tune from that famous Steve McQueen film “The Great Escape” echoing around Drumhowan as we held on to record a dramatic victory and progress through the front door of this year’s intermediate championship.
Our team management, players and supporters will undoubtedly be delighted to have commenced the championship campaign with a win but should be only too aware that the level of performance will have to improve if a serious run is to be made through the McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship. However, there was enough evidence in the victory to suggest that provided we continue to work hard, believe in our ability and encourage each other we will be in with a shout at the business end of the championship. Well done lads.
To view a selection of action photographs from the match please click the link below to visit our Flickr page.
Team & Scorers: Jamie Smith, Keith Daly, Damien Matthews, Conor McGeough, Colin Quinn, Stephen Lynch 0-1, Stephen McGuirk, Mark Daly 0-1, Martin Carroll, Keelan Clerkin 0-1, Fergal McGeough 0-2, Noel Carroll 1-2, Lorcan Smyth, Johnny Reilly 1-0 and Mark McGuirk 1-0. Subs: Niall McKeown for Colin Quinn and Dwayne Rooney for Fergal McGeough.