Carrick Rovers 2 – 1 Monaghan United
The final of the Premier Division Shield on Saturday last in Cootehill produced a tight, tough fought encounter that saw Carrick Rovers emerge as winners on a 2-1 score line. Having lost a thriller against Cavan Shamrocks in the Cup ¼ final after extra time, the Carrick players were aiming to win some silverware to show for what has been a good season so far.
Monaghan United set up defensively to try and keep the free-flowing Carrick forward line at bay and it was a tactic that worked well. Some good play down the wings from Eanna Allen and Roan MacArdle produced a number of corners but the Monaghan United defence stood firm. Dualta Honney playing up front was getting little change from what was often a three- man central defence and was restricted to a couple of half-chances and free-kicks that were dealt with by the Monaghan keeper.
It was an excellent free kick by Nathan Campbell that produced the best chance of the half, the Carrick players just failing to connect to steer the ball into the net. Half time came with the score 0-0.
With the Rovers, rear-guard of Eoin Keelan, Augustus Lupari and Nathan Campbell dealing with any Monaghan counter attacks, Declan Lynch moved to the left wing and Sean Carty onto the right in order to try and penetrate the Monaghan defence. Declan, a start performer with the CMUL U-12 selection this season, was driving the Rovers team forward and created several chances. The break-through came when Eanna Allen, now playing in Central Midfield strode forward and unleashed a screamer into the far corner of the Monaghan net. It was a goal worthy of any final. Having broken the duck, Carrick were going forward with more purpose, with inspirational captain Michael Og Tierney continuing his excellent form, passing forward at every opportunity. It was from one of these moves that Jack Carolan took possession and ghosted past two players before dispatching a neat finish to the Monaghan net to make it 2-0 to Carrick Rovers.
Now two down the Monaghan team switched tactic and began to pile forward putting Rovers under pressure. Niall Meehan stood firm in the Rovers defence to all that was thrown at him, making tackle after tackle. Jack McNally came in at left back to bring some fresh legs to the Rovers defence. Monaghan kept pushing forward with Carrick keeper Shane Carolan being called on to produce an excellent save. From their next attack, Monaghan pulled one back to leave the score 2-1 with just 8 minutes to go. This didn’t stop the Carrick team going forward looking for the killer goal. A lovely move down the left saw Nathan Campbell play a ball across the box that Luke McArdle did well to control. Luke’s shot looked to heading for the bottom corner only for the excellent Monaghan keeper to dive across and tip the ball round the post. Liam Martin and Mark Bumatay came in for Rovers in the closing minutes to shore up the Carrick defence, Liam making an important clearance to keep Monaghan from getting in on goal.
The final whistle brought relief to the Carrick players who dominated the match overall. Next up for Carrick is their final league game against Cavan Shamrocks at home on Saturday next. This top of the table clash will determine the destination of the League title, with the winners crowned champions.