Carrick rovers 14’s secured their third CMUL league title in a row on
a sun drenched Ballybay Road on Sunday afternoon in style. When they
turn it on, like they did on Sunday, they are a joy to watch but it
hasn’t been like this all season. There has been a lot of days when
they had to win ugly but they proved this season that they can do that
as well with every member of the squad playing a crucial part. When
they move the ball quickly a lot of teams find it hard to live with
them and you could see on Sunday from the first whistle that they were
in up for it.
It’s fair to say that the foundations for this league title were laid
pre Christmas as the Rovers have struggled to find their rhythm in
2017 but they succeeded in the end.
The fixtures presented Rovers with a lot of tough matches early in the
season but their long tough pre-season had them in tip top condition
for the early season challenges.
On top of this they were having an excellent run in the Ulster SFAI
cup but were falling down the league table due to their progress in
the cup. A run that saw them go the whole way to the Ulster final only
to lose out to Letterkenny Rovers 13-12 on penalties after an epic
tussle. After some good results, a 4-1 away to win at Ballyhaise, a
4-1 home win to Quigley Point Swifts and 2-0 away win at Bonagee they
just fell just short in the final on the lottery of penalties after a
thrilling 1-1 draw. The Rovers had set their sights on Letterkenny
early in the season and that was their main focus, a challenge they
accepted and carried out with great courage as the Donegal lads are
the cream of Ulster and up there with the best in the country.
The lads were 100% focused on the challenge from early season and that
was crucial in the cup run. Results were still coming in the league
and there was no let up in games with Rovers commitment been top
class. Heroic in defeat, Rovers picked up their runners up medals and
gained a lot of respect in the aftermath of the cup final thriller.
However the “hangover” had set in and the lads were struggling to get
back to the same intensity in training and also in matches. This
remained the case in the second half of the season with the lads
failing to reach the same heights and the squad was being tested to
the limit. They were on the ropes at many stages but they came through
in the end. In February they lost their first game in the CMUL for 13
months, quite an achievement for these lads but they responded in
typical fashion by picking up 18 points in their last 6 games to
become league champions for the third season in a row.
Well done Carrick Rovers 14’s on another memorable season that saw you
raise the bar yet again and that Ulster Final performance will live
long in the memory.
Squad: Daire O’shea, Cormac Alfred, Keith Farnan, Ben Mc Connon,
Daniel Mc Cahey, Luke Mc Sharry, Nathan Mc Nally, Flynn Holland, Dylan
Byrne, Zach Donnelly, Stevie O’Rourke, Cathal Maher, Conor Martin,
Conor Cassidy, Marcus Objajuluwa, Oran Mc Mahon