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This Week's Aletto

Valley Lodge,  25th March

Letters: A S I L

Winner: Alison Deery Ward, 18 ONeill St, Carrickmacross 

Jackpot: Euro 2,300

Next week: Deery's

Jackpot: Euro 1,000


Plenty of positives despite Cup defeat

Carrick Rovers V Killylough
CMUL 14 Championship Cup

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 began well, exerting excellent pressure on the opposition and closing down any rampant runs forward by the Killylough midfield. Defence were sharp and cut off any supply to the opposition forwards. Jack Gillick won some great headers up front, flicking the ball on for the on-running Dylan Ward, but tight Killylough defending and defending in numbers meant it was difficult for Dylan to navigate his way through and find a sight on goal. Fionnan Cassidy and Michal Stemplewski showed some silky touches in midfield, trying to find space and play the ball wide. Space in midfield was at a premium though and sometimes that one extra touch surrendered possession, and Killylough were keen to break. But Dylan McEneaney and Adam Lynagh at the heart of the defence were equal to it and forced them back. With no other option but to go wide and play the channels down either flank, Killylough were met with equal resistance by Conor O’Rourke and Eoghan Dillan standing strong.

Euan Matthews and Cormac O Hanlon gave excellent width in midfield, consistently providing an outlet, but would find that Killylough were quick to reorganise and force them down a cul de sac. With Rovers just finding their footing in the match, disaster struck. With two set pieces in quick succession Rovers found themselves 2 goals behind and barely had time to recover when a high ball that looked to be heading wide caught everyone by surprise and found its way over the Rovers goal line from a narrow angle, a freakish bounce/spin redirecting its trajectory towards the net. A bitter pill to swallow Rovers had no choice but to regroup and restart. Midfield continued to work hard, with Jack Gillick dropping back at times to make a 5 man midfield and putting himself to good use. Rovers hard work was rewarded with some half chances up front but were unable to convert due to some good goal keeping from the Killylough number 1. Fionnan Cassidy almost made the most of a free kick central to the goals on the edge of the box, floating the ball towards the top right corner, keeper stranded, only for the ball to drift wide It must have been close. Dylan ward tried his luck on the ball too, dribbling at the Killylough defence and opening up space, but Killylough were well prepared, playing depth and cover with one person tackling and one person dropping. It did create an opportunity for a Rovers players to find a space behind the defence to drive at, with the Killylough player dropping and breaking the line – leaving a vunerable area for the Rovers to attack. But the Rovers just couldn’t build up enough steam to take advantage.

Aidan Rahill came on at right midfield to try and add a different option in midfield. Euan had worked his socks off in that position and his determination and effort was unquestionable. But trailing 3 nil Rovers hoped  to throw a little bit more caution to the wind in search of a goal. Hard tackling and a knock to Fionnan just before half time made way for Steven Carville to put his mark on the game in centre midfield. With Steven having missed much of the season this year it was good to see him back and coming to terms with the tempo of the game so quickly, making a difference in both defence and attack. Rovers restricted Killylough to few chances on goals, and apart from the goals themselves Killylough had only one other opportunity where Breffni came out well to save and clear the danger.

Rovers were glad to reach half time without any further damage sustained. With a chance to sit down and analyse the game Rovers switched to a 3-5-2 formation for the second half. With Killylough not really showing signs of threatening down the wings the 3 men in defence could defend narrow and rebuke the Killylough attacks. With the extra man in midfield, Jack Gillick could bring his good work from the first half into a more forward position and try to exploit any gaps in the opposition defence. The move played out well in the opening exchanges, Rovers pressed into the opposition half and created more half chances. The 3 man defence cleaned up at the back with Breffni in goals coming of his line quickly to smother any through balls. Shots began to pepper in from the Rovers players, all the while hoping just one will deceive the Killylough keeper. Ecstasy came when not long into the second half Fionnan Cassidy stepped up to the mark with a free kick from a similar position as before, this time no mistake. The keeper didn’t move a muscle. A deft strike with the left boot soared into the top right corner, clipping the underside of the bar for good measure. Jubilation. Rovers had something to fight for. 3 – 1

Rovers continued their plight, searching for a second. More hard tackling in midfield and some heavy knocks paved the way for Eoin Duffy and Jamie King to come in to the game. Eoin making some great darting runs forward and Jamie getting stuck in all over the pitch, linking up play and searching for an opening to shoot. Jack Gillick then made his own luck after some good work from Dylan Ward, laying the ball off to Jack, Jack struck early with a placed shot in to the bottom right corner. But the keeper again reacted smartly and was equal to it, getting a strong hand to the ball at full stretch. It just wasn’t to be Rovers day.

With the game entering the last 15 minutes Rovers began to tire, gaps began to appear in midfield and the defence were coming under more and more pressure. Jordan White made some important interceptions in defence as the 3 man back line began to get pulled out of shape as Rovers gave everything in search of that elusive 2nd goal. Adam Lynagh had given his all and was now hampering an injury, Euan Matthews took the batten and did his best to beat back the Killylough attacks. Cathal O’Rourke came on in left midfield and provided great energy out wide and Tiernan McCourt came on up front, hungry for a piece of the action. But not for the first time this season, Killylough prevailed in the final stages of the match, raising their game that extra gear and finding 3 late goals to end the game 6-1.

It didn’t feel like Rovers deserved a 5 goal deficit, which made the scoreline more difficult to take. But take away the scoreline and it was a good test for the Rovers team. They showed bravery, courage, effort, pride and a lot of quality in their play and this performance will only improve them and spur them on to better things.

Final Score:      Carrick Rovers Lions  1-6 Killylough

Team: Breffini Henry, Conor O’Rourke, Adam Lynagh, Dylan McEneaney, Eoghan Dillan, Euan Matthews, Cormac O’Hanlon, Fionnan Cassidy (Captain), Michal Stemplewski,  Jack Gillick, Dylan Ward (Vice Captain), Jordan White, Aidan Rahill, Steven Carville, Eoin Duffy, Cathal O’Rourke, Tiernan McCourt, Jamie King

End of Season Comments

The Rovers players can be extremely happy with their season, each week they have improved both as individuals and as a team, with many players learning new positions and others flourishing with regular football week in week out. Each and every single player has added to the team journey this season and should be proud of themselves. Some players have excelled this season beyond expectation, and some have transformed from a shy nervous player to a confident young man, some are beginning to blossom and some are on the very cusp of finding that breakthrough. It is evident at training, each player has several attributes in their skill locker already, it’s just a matter of putting it together. See it as a chain of attributes, sometimes one of the links will take more time and effort to unlock, training is the key. With much to learn, hopes are high within the club for these young players.

Finally thanks to all the parents throughout the year for their time and attention and for providing transport to and from  matches. Thank you for your support.

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