Carrick Rovers Under’s Push Reigning Champions All the Way in SFAI Ulster Cup Final.
Carrick Rovers AFC Under 14’s made the long trip to West Donegal on Saturday to play crack local side Cappry Rovers FC in the SFAI Ulster Regional Cup Final. The Donegal side had won this competition in the two previous seasons and had disposed of a strong Monaghan United team in the semi-final, so this was always going to be a tough assignment for these Rovers players. The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides driving into the tackles and giving no time on the ball for their opponents to settle into the match. Although it was being played at a tremendous tempo this didn’t affect the levels of technical ability from all players on show. There was some brilliant passages of play from both sides to equal the levels of commitment. Cappry were asking questions of the Carrick defence with the lightning pace of Mark Mbuli causing problems for Rovers centre back pairing of Oisin Byrne and Cian Burns but as the game progressed they settled into their task well. It was Carrick who fashioned the first real chance of the game as Patrick Farrelly and Cian Conlon linked up on the left flank with Conlon’s cross reaching the head of Kian Duffy but the Cappry Keeper was well placed to deal with his effort. Cuan Reilly and Mark McCahey knew that they were in a battle in the midfield department as they faced a strong unit which included the powerful Luke McGlynn and Shaun McMenamin but they gave as good as they got which allowed Fionan Carolan more time to influence the proceedings from the No. 10 position. Cappry opened the scoring in the 15th minute after an unfortunate slip by Conlon allowed McGlynn to gain possession and drive down the Carrick left wing before whipping in a terrific low cross which eluded everybody but Mbuli who slotted the ball home beyond Tomas Gartlan’s desperate dive. This would have rocked a lesser team but the Carrick lads rolled up their sleeves and began to get more and more into the match. They created the next opportunity when Carolan’s dribbling run ended with a threaded pass into Dylan’s McConnell’s run on the edge of the area but he dragged his effort wide of the upright. Again Carrick came at Cappry looking to restore parity with Rovers two full-backs Patrick Farrelly and Darragh Mee beginning to have a greater influence on the match going forward. Cappry were always a threat on the attack with the pace of Mbuli and Gartlan was called into action to dive to his left to grasp the striker’s goal-bound effort in the 25th minute. Rovers were being pinned back with the half entering its final stages and they rode their luck in the 31st minute as McCahey hacked a ball off the line from a Cappry corner with Byrne’s completing the clearance. Again McGlynn was having a big say in matters and his driving run down the left again resulted in a threatening cross but this time Gartlan dealt with the danger.
Half Time: Cappry Rovers 1 Carrick Rovers 0.
After a frank and open talk during the interval, Carrick came out for the 2nd period in the belief that they were as good as their illustrious opponents and that they were well capable of getting back into the game. From the first whistle for the restart they drove forward at their hosts with McConnell leading the charge from the front. He was causing the tall figure of Andrew Murray no end of problems with his intelligent movement. Carrick began to pin the opponents back into their own half in the opening exchanges and forced a corner kick in the 38th minute after McCahey had put Duffy clear on the Carrick right wing and his cross had been put behind by a Cappry defender. Cian Conlon strolled over to take the kick and his in-swinging delivery was met perfectly by McConnell’s head to glance the ball to the corner of the net. Cappry seemed stunned by the level of intensity that this Carrick side were applying as the South Monaghan outfit began to believe that they could take the Sean McCaffrey Cup back home. McCahey was the next to test Evan Long in the Cappry goals with a 47th minute strike from outside of the area. Cappry were always dangerous on the counter-attack with the quick Mbuli always a threat. Carolan was now becoming the dominant figure on the pitch and was having a tremendous tussle with McGlynn as the Donegal lad had his hands full with the terrific footballing intelligence of the Monaghan player. Cuan Reilly was the provider of the next opportunity for Carrick as he won possession in midfield before slotting a ball out to Conlon who drove his shot wide of the upright in the 56th minute. Two minutes later it was Duffy who burst forward on the right before picking out McConnell in a good position but his shot didn’t trouble Long’s goal. Oisin McNally replaced the exhausted Duffy in the 57th minute as Carrick looked to win the encounter. Cappry showed why they have been Ulster Champions for the last two season as they weathered the storm and again began to cause problems for the Carrick defence with their flowing brand of football. There had been a few scares with Gartlan having to dive full length to grasp a goal-bound shot from finding the back of his net in the 59th minute and again he did well to push a McMenamin shot around his post. These were the warning signs for Carrick as the results of their efforts began to catch up with them and Cappry added to their score with 8 minutes left on the clock. Mbuli gained possession just outside the Carrick area on the right and his forceful run saw him reach the byline before whipping a dangerous delivery across the Carrick area where it reached Shaun McMenamin who bundled the ball across the line. Again Carrick didn’t lie down as they showed tremendous spirit as well as skill to pin Cappry back into their own half as they looked to bring the tie into added on time. Daire Matthews came in for Reilly who’d covered every blade of grass. Carrick thought that they had levelled the game in the last minute of normal time when Farrelly’s pass found McConnell free on the edge of the area and he controlled before smashing his shot low into the bottom corner of the net but the Referee adjusted that he’d controlled the ball with his hand and awarded a free kick to Cappry. The final whistle blew shortly after.
Final Score: Cappry Rovers 2 Carrick Rovers 1.
Team: Tomas Gartlan, Darragh Mee, Oisin Byrne, Cian Burns, Patrick Farrelly, Kian Duffy, Mark McCahey, Cuan Reilly, Fionan Carolan, Dylan McConnell and Cian Conlon.
Subs Used: Oisin McNally for Duffy and Daire Matthews for Reilly.
Unused Subs: Cillian McConnon, John Kelly and Shane Tierney.