Rovers 14 premier side travelled to Monaghan Astro to play their hosts Drumkill Rovers in the semi-final of the cup. In a tight tense affair both sides started slowly testing each other early on without ever really committing. Winning the toss Rovers elected to play with the breeze in the first half and where soon pressing Drumkill back. But a stubborn, tight defence were giving Rovers no clear opportunities, closing down the space and getting players behind the ball. On 12 minutes Rovers had the first half glimpse at goal with a neat move down there left getting the ball into Jerome whose shot was dealt with comfortably by the Drumkill keeper. This seemed to give Rovers the impetus and for the next 10 minutes they pressed their opponents, forcing a number of corners.
On 25 minutes Rovers earned a free some 25 yards out, with Tommy Byrne missing up stepped Eddie Walsh whose effort thundered of the crossbar for the second week running. This seemed to be the wake-up call that Drumkill required, for the next 5 minutes they controlled possession and utilising both wings, they pushed Rovers back. They won a corner and from this they were unlucky not to force home the opening goal. Rovers then started getting possession in the middle and from one move got the ball wide to Peter who beat his man and drove into the box, his cross just eluded the in rushing players. This seemed to give Rovers the bit they needed and they starting probing both wings and Cathal linked up with Daniel who got Jerome in behind the back four. Jerome swung over the most delightful cross only to see it evade Peter who was steaming in at the back post. Rovers withstood a period of Drumkill pressure, only to break quick with Lorcan feeding Daniel who saw his half volley well saved by the Drumkill keeper. With both sides now playing neat attractive football, the game was a pulsating advertisement of end to end football.Half time arrived with no breakthrough for either side.
The second half started with Rovers on the back foot, Drumkill using the elements pinned Rovers into their own half. With both Lee and Fionn immense in the centre of the Rovers rear-guard and Thomas in good form in goals they held Drumkill at bay. As the half wore on Rovers started to gain the upper hand and were now forcing half chances, from one corner they seen a goal mouth scramble cleared. But as the half wore on Drumkill upped the tempo again and from corner they struck the crossbar. They were forcing the play and won a few free kicks in dangerous positions and Thomas in goal required safe hands. With both sides pushing for a winner gaps were beginning to appear. Rovers had introduced both Sean and Liam Og and both were having an influence on the game. Rovers played neat football with Eddie releasing Peter who forced his way inside only to see his effort well saved. Next up was Sean who was pushed wide and the ball was eventually cleared for a corner. The corner was well defended and Drumkill launched a quick counter attack and forced a Rovers defender into a rash challenge which resulted in apenalty. The young right full,who had a tremdenous game, stepped up and saw his effort shave the cross-bar and let Rovers of the hook. The remaining 5 minutes saw both sides push for a winner but to no avail.
It was into extra time and Rovers started as they meant to finish, probing on both wings, creating space and trying to get behind a determined and resolute Drumkill defence. The midfield of Peter, Lorcan and Edward were finding a small bit more space. They forced a number of corners and on the stroke of half time Jerome floated in the most delightful ball. The inrushing trio of Peter, Fionn and Daniel all claimed to have got a touch, but the ball nestled in the back of the net. Rovers had got the all important break-through.
It was straight into the second half and Rovers found themselves being pushed back as Drumkill got players forward at every opportunity. They were now playing with real guts and determination and were unlucky to find Thomas, Ryan, Cathal, Liam Og, Lee and Fionn in tremendous form. As Drumkill pushed forward they left gaps at the back and Rovers broke quickly on more than one occasion, but could not find a second goal that would ease the nerves and make the game safe. Both Sean and Jerome found the back four and keeper hard to beat. With time up Rovers worked the ball high up the pitch and tried tom play out the last minutes in the Drumkill half. When the final whistle went, Rovers were relieved to get through to the next round. They knew they were part of a great game that entertained all the spectators who came to watch.
Team: Thomas Duane, Peter McElroy, Lee Butler, Fionn O’Callaghan, Cathal McEnaney, Oran Martin, Ryan Nelson, Daniel Leegan, Lorcan Murnaghan, Edward Walsh, Jerome Abekyamwale, Liam Og Murray and Sean Burns.