After a long and eventful season, which saw the Carrick Rovers Under 14’s CMUL Premier division side narrowly defeated in the Ulster SFAI Sean McCaffrey Under 14’s Cup Final, the squad travelled to John Sherlock Park, Cootehill on Saturday morning with expectations of completing a double of League and Shield successes. They faced the local Cootehill Harps FC knowing that there traditionally was very little between both teams. Having wrapped up the League in previous weeks, this Rovers outfit wanted to finish their season on a positive note and set about trying to achieve that from the first whistle. The Rovers forward line of Oisin McNally, Dylan McConnell, Cian Conlon and Fionan Carolan were stringing together some flowing attacking moves which were causing the Harps backline trouble and which led to series of corners being conceded. With Carolan and Conlon delivering some tremendously inviting crosses it was only a matter of time before Rovers would convert one of these opportunities. Eventually they did in the 9th minute when Conlon’s cross caused all sorts of confusion in the Cootehill penalty area before McConnell showed his predatory instincts to poke the ball home. Cootehill showed why they had reached this Final and were never going to roll-over too easily. They began to ask questions of the Rovers defence of Darragh Mee, Oisin Byrne, Cian Burns and Patrick Farrelly. When the home side did preach the Carrick rearguard they found Tomas Gartlan in inspiring form. Cootehill created their best chance in the 20th minute when their No. 9 controlled just inside the area before rifling a shot towards the top corner of the net only to see Gartlan spring to his left to palm the ball away from his goal. Within a minute he’d thawed the same player again with an equally impressive save. Carrick should have increased their lead in the 25th minute after a free-flowing move involving Mark McCahey and McConnell whose precise pass picked out Conlon inside the area but his shot narrowly missed the target.
Half-Time: Cootehill Harps FC 0 Carrick Rovers AFC 1.
Carrick came out of the blocks from the start of the second half and doubled their lead within 2 minutes of the restart. Cuan Reilly won possession in midfield before finding Carolan whose inch perfect pass released Conlon in behind the Cootehill defence and he applied the perfect finish that his Uncle Barry would have been proud of. He nearly added to his tally 2 minutes later but missed the target after McConnell had created the opportunity. Carrick did add a third in the 44th minute when Carolan and McConnell combined to tee-up Mee to unleash an unstoppable 25 yard pile-driver to the roof of the net. Cootehill kept plugging away as Rovers began to ring the changes. Kian Duffy replaced McConnell and Daire Matthews came in for Reilly. The rejigging of the Rovers frontline, saw McNally take a more central role and he showed how dangerous he could be in front of goal in the 55th minute. Again Carolan was the creator as he threaded a pass into McNally inside the area where the tall striker flicked the ball over his opponent before planting his shot beyond the Keepers dive and into the bottom corner of the net. Rovers again rang the changes with John Kelly and Cillian McConnon replacing McCahey and Carolan. It was Duffy who rounded off the scoring in the 62nd minute after McNally turned provider. Farrelly raced forward and found McNally on the edge of the area where he drilled the ball across the face of the Cootehill goals leaving Duffy with the easiest of tasks to turn the ball home. Jack Carolan and Dualta Honney came in for Conlon and McNally as the game finished with no more scores added.
Final Score: Cootehill Harps FC 0 Carrick Rovers AFC 5.
A tremendous way to finish off a fruitful season. A just reward for a lot of effort from this bunch of Carrick Rovers young players.