Rovers 14 side came into the Cup Final on a good run of form but came up against a hungrier and more determined Shamrocks side. From the off, Shamrocks hunted in packs, closed down the space and moved the ball forward quickly. They controlled the game and on 10 minutes Rovers lost the ball on their own left wing, Shamrocks swung over a delightful ball and the wee number 10 got between two Rovers defenders to guide a beautiful header past Thomas in goal.
Rovers were finding it hard to get their passing game going, but on one occasion they worked a delightful move down the right and released Jerome, who took one extra touch which allowed the defender to nick it off his foot. On 22 minutes Rovers found themselves 2 down, Shamrocks won a corner which Rovers defended well. The ball was headed clear to the edge of the box where the full back was lurking, he hit it first time and the ball flew into the far corner of the net.
Rovers then started to roll up their sleeves and compete in the middle. They started probing and passing the ball a wee bit better and Fionn, Lorcan, Daniel and Eddie were starting to grips with the Shamrocks midfield. The back four and keeper off Thomas, Peter, Tommy, Liam Og and Cathal had done nothing but found themselves 2 down. Up front Jerome and Sean were feeding off scraps. Rovers first real move off note came on 25 minutes where Lorcan and Peter linked up well to feed Sean on the right, he took on his marker and whipped in a delightful ball which eluded Jerome and Daniel. Again Rovers found space down the right and worked Edward in behind the back four, well placed Edward rushed his effort and blazed over the bar. At this stage Rovers were forced into a switch, with the injured Daniel being replaced by Dylan. Rovers were now restricting Shamrocks to long range efforts and starting to work themselves into the game. At half time Rovers found themselves two down.
The second started like Rovers finished the first, getting more and more on the ball. In the first ten minutes alone they created 4 great chances, only to see the Cavan keeper and back four making great last ditch blocks and clearances. First up was Jerome who got in behind the defence only to see his effort go wide, Tommy let fly from 20 yards to see the keeper handle well, again Rovers worked Jerome in on the left only to see his effort blocked by the Cavan defender. At this stage it looked as if Rovers had to get one. They were controlling the tempo and forcing Cavan to defend deep, but could find no way past a determined defence. Again Rovers were using the width with Dylan going by his marker and sending over a delightful ball only to see it cleared for a corner. The resulting ball was swung to the back post where Lorcan could only direct his header wide.
Next up Edward was put in behind the Shamrocks defence and his shot beat the Cavan keeper but Jerome somehow inadvertently cleared off the Cavan line. This seemed to sum up Rovers luck in front of goal up to this point. With 20 minutes of the second half gone Rovers were caught for a sucker punch. The ball was moved down the Cavan left and from out wide the player swung over a cross cum shot which squeezed inside the front post. With 15 minutes left Rovers put Lee into the fray and went for broke. Rovers continued to create chances with Jerome, Tommy and Edward finding it hard to beat the keeper. With 8 minutes left Rovers eventually found a goal. The ball was moved out from defence and through the middle, Dylan and Jerome linked up well to release Edward who squeezed his effort past the keeper.
Rovers at this stage had introduced Ryan for Sean. This seemed to give Rovers a wee bit more energy on the right and Ryan forced Shamrocks to concede a corner. From the resulting corner the ball fell between Ryan, Lorcan and Edward but neither player could force away a shot. Rovers continued to press for the last 5 minutes of the game but could not find a way past the Cavan rear guard. Rovers can count themselves unlucky on the day, they created enough clear cut chances to force the game into extra time but on the day Cavan Shamrocks were more hungry side and deserved the victory. Well done to both teams, congratulations to Cavan Shamrocks on winning the cup and now Rovers must focus on clinching the Premier division title and get back to winning ways quickly.
Team: Thomas Duane, Cathal McEneaney, Liam Og Murray, Tommy Byrne, Peter McElroy, Lee Butler, Fionn O’Callaghan, Lorcan Murnaghan, Daniel Leegan, Edward Walsh, Dylan McCahey, Sean Burns, Jerome Abekyamwale and Ryan Nelson.