Rovers 14 side, minus three players due to illness and injury, travelled for an early kick off to a blustery Century Homes Park on Sunday morning. The home side opened the brighter off the two sides, putting Rovers on the back foot for the first five minutes. The back four of Ryan, Lee, Tommy and Cathal held strong and Rovers started to get a grip in the middle with Fionn and Lorcan starting to get to grips with the Utd midfield.
With the width being provided by Peter and Daniel Rovers started to press back the home side, using the width well and on a few occasions providing half chances for Eddie and Jerome. The game was now flowing from one end to another, with both sides content to play ball the correct way. On fifteen minutes Rovers created their first real opportunity, with Jerome and Daniel linking well to create space for Eddie, who saw his effort collected comfortably by the Utd keeper. This was the start of a dominant period for Rovers, they were now dictating the midfield and pushing Utd back. From one great ball by Eddie, he found Jerome in behind the Utd back four and was unlucky when his shot was well saved by the Utd keeper. Rovers continued to create half chances with Daniel, Eddie and Jerome seeing efforts off target. The game changed momentum on the 23rd minute, when a misplaced Rovers pass was picked up by the Utd No 10, he quickly shifted it left and from the resulting cross Lorcan headed past his own keeper. This seemed to upset Rovers rhythm and Monaghan quickly applied more pressure on the Rovers back four. Thomas in goal had to be alert to save at the feet of the Utd centre forward and from one corner came and cleared in a crowded penalty area. Rovers weathered this storm and Eddie was now to the fore, finding space and running at the Utd back four. From one such run he was unlucky when his effort from all off 20 yards cannoned of the cross bar with the keeper well beaten, Daniel following up could not get his shot of before being closed down. Jerome was now finding space both in front and behind the Utd rear-guard, but Rovers could find no way through. Rovers were one down at half time, but had the elements in the second.
Rovers started the second on top and pushed Utd on the back foot. At this stage Rovers had to take off Fionn and Peter who were suffering with the flu. The introduction of Dylan and Liam Og did not affect the flow of the game. The next fifteen minutes saw both sides nullify each other and with plenty of pretty ball but no real opportunity for either side. Rovers moved Tommy into midfield and this seem to give Rovers the upper hand in the middle. Rovers now started to apply pressure, with Jerome weaving his way by the back four only to see the Utd keeper make another good save. Again Rovers worked the ball wide to Dylan, who fed Jerome, he weaved past two defenders and slipped the ball sideways to Eddie. This seemed to draw the Utd players and Eddie laid the ball back into Tommy’s path, he let fly from 25 yards and his effort flew past the upright with keeper well beaten. Next up was Edward who was found himself in space and with the outside of his right boot let fly again shaving the outside of the post. Rovers were now on top but could not find a way past a resilient Utd keeper and back four. With the game entering the final few minutes Utd now moved the ball forward, trying to play the game in the Rovers half. With time up Rovers played the ball in behind the Utd back four, Jerome was in behind the defence and bearing down on goal when the ref blew for full time, to the astonishment of all players on both sides and the big crowd in attendance. This was a terrific advertisement for underage football, with both teams playing an attractive brand of football. Well done to both teams and to the Rovers lads, heads up cup semi next week, I could not ask for an ounce more from this group of courageous players.
Team: Thomas Duane, Ryan Nelson, Lee Butler, Tommy Byrne, Cathal McEneaney, Peter NcElroy, Liam OgMurray, Lorcan Murnaghan, Fionn O’Callaghan, Daniel Leegan, Dylan McCahey, Edward Walsh & Jerome Abekyamwale.