The bank holiday weekend brought Carrick Rovers and Killylough together again for their 5th encounter of the season on a sunny Sunday afternoon to contest the final of the 14s Championship Cup in Cootehill Harps Astro Pitch. Rovers faced a daunting task taking on the league winners who were abundant in confidence. But confidence in the Rovers camp was also high, having been justly rewarded for their seasons exploits with an end of season Final, cheered on by their families and friends.
Rovers secured 15 of their total points haul of 21 for the 2012/2013 league campaign in the 2nd half of the season, a double uptake in points going from a 27% points return before Christmas to a 55% points return post Christmas. Fair to say Rovers enjoyed an impressive 2nd half of the season as they also recorded an unbeaten run of 7 games, putting them in the race for a top three finish in the CMUL league, only for Killylough to thwart their efforts in their final league game leaving Rovers finishing 4th and only 2 points behind third.
Rovers began the game well, Breffni in goals gave his defence and teammates great encouragement and advice and could be heard from all corners of the pitch. As Rovers tried to kick start their passing game it was Killylough who looked more dangerous as they tested Rovers with a few early balls over the top. Adam Lynagh and Dylan McEneaney in the centre of defence stood firm and showed good anticipation by dropping back to intercept the through ball with both Conor O’Rourke and Euan Matthews in the right and left back positions tracking back to provide depth and cover.
Rovers kicked off only their 2nd match of 2013 against league title hopefuls Cavan Celtic, who were yet to drop points in the league this season, on the convent lands. Not having played a competitive match for a number of weeks Rovers were hungry for game time and anxious for a good start. Before the match whistle had even blown Celtic were keen to make life difficult for the Rovers, demanding ball boys to retrieve wayward balls for their players. Credit to the Rovers players though, they kept their focus and found just reward as the midfield played in Dylan Ward who used his pace to find himself one on one with the Celtic keeper and fired home to give his team an early lead.
Rovers welcomed Killylough to the convent lands for their first game of the New Year on a mild winter’s day. A shower of rain had fallen earlier and the pitch was in good condition for a quick passing game. Rovers endured the worst possible start when Killylough broke in the first 5 minutes with a long ball over the top. Donnach Swinburne deputising in goals for the day did his best to rush out and clear but the Killylough player showed good pace and composure to slot the ball into the net.