Rovers entertained Monaghan United on Sunday morning last in the semi-final of the 14 Premier Cup. Fresh from a big win over one of our closest rivals we knew that this encounter was going to be a tighter affair. Utd opened the brighter and controlled the early possession without really threatening the Rovers goal. Once Rovers got settled they started to win possession in the middle of the pitch where Fionn O’Callaghan and Lorcan Murnaghan put in an immense afternoon shift. The first real chance fell to Monaghan Utd, a ball swung in from the left caught out both Edward and Peter and found its way to the Utd player at the back post. Luckily for Rovers both Edward and Peter reacted quickly to snuff out the danger.
This seemed to give Rovers some impetus and they upped their tempo and started making inroads down both wings. From one such foray, the ball was worked down the left wing and fed inside where Jerome beat his marker and played in a delightful ball only to see it cleared to safety. Then Tommy won possession in his own half fed Fionn who released Jerome. He held off two defenders and surged forward, from 25 yards he let fly and seen his effort cannon back off the bar. Rovers then won a number of corners and from one they worked the ball to Tommy on the edge of the box where his effort flew past the angle of the goals. On 20 minutes the first goal came.
Utd were pressing Rovers who won possession in their own box, worked it right through Peter and Edward who in turn released Sean. He was some 35 yards from goal, but he drove forward and from 20 yards out let fly. His effort was half scuffed, but this seem to deceive the keeper and it nestled in the bottom corner of the net. Rovers continued to press with after this with Liam Og and Jerome making great runs from out wide and Edward, Lorcan and Fionn linking up well in the middle. But Utd got a foothold again and they continued to feed their danger-man up front who was working the line well. From a hopeful punt forward, a Rovers defender called keeper and the rest of the back four stood still for a second. This allowed an Utd player an opportunity, he took one touch to many and allowed Lee to a timely interception. Both sides played out the reminder of the half playing neat football without seriously testing either keeper.
Rovers started the second half like a rocket. From the tip off the ball was worked through Lorcan and Cathal who quickly played the ball to Jerome. He got the ball on the half way line and took off. He beat two defenders, turning and twisting them inside out and worked his way into the box only to see his effort well saved. From the resulting kick out Rovers won possession again and worked the ball to Jerome who took off on another mazy run. This time he ran directly at the heart of the Utd defence weaving his way into the box, only to see his effort brush the outside of the post. Rovers were now on top and continued to press both wings. The ball was worked down the right wing where Edward collected the ball and worked his way into the box. He took one touch too many and was crowded out.
Rovers again moved the ball wide and Edward made a great run into the box and his cross cum shot cannoned of the post. Rovers switched the play down the left wing where they ended up winning a corner on the 10th minute. Sean swung over a great ball which was half cleared, it was worked out to Seanie again and this time Lee got on to the end of it and laid the ball into path of Fionn who beat the keeper via a slight deflection. Rovers pressed hard for the next 5 minutes looking for a third. Rovers emptied their bench introducing Dylan McCahey, Aaron Kearney and Ryan Nelson for the last 20 minutes. But to the credit of Monaghan Utd, they rolled up their sleeves and started to dictate play. They exerted real pressure on the Rovers back four where Peter, Tommy, Aaron and Ryan had to be on their toes on more than one occasion.
Rovers were now breaking quick as Utd had them pinned in their own half long periods, with Thomas making some good saves and handling very well. With time up and Rovers looking like they would hold on, Utd won a free on the edge of the box. A beautiful ball was swung over and the big centre forward rose highest to nod home. Utd pressed for last five minutes of added on time and won a succession of corners which Rovers defended well. Both teams contributed to a tense thrilling affair, where on the day Rovers ran out the winners. This game could have gone either way and well done to both sets of players who continue to test each other.
The team on the day were Thomas Duane, Ryan Nelson, Lee Butler, Fionn O’Callaghan, Tommy Byrne, Aaron Kearney, Cathal McEneaney, Dylan McCahey, Edward Walsh, Lorcan Murnaghan, Peter McElroy, Liam Og Murray, Sean Burns and Jerome Abekyamwale.