There was something of an International feel to proceedings on the Ballybay Road on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, as the visitors were DC de Carhaix, from Brittany, France. They had travelled to Carrickmacross to see if they could retain the Coupe de Jumelage (The Twinning Cup), which they had won 12 months previously in France against Carrick Rovers 17’s side. A large crowd had gathered to support these local lads and the visitors and both the day and the pitch, encouraged both sides to play good entertaining football.
Rovers started brightly and set about getting at the French side early on not letting them settle on the ball. David Wilson and Robert Berg have formed a very good partnership in the middle of Rovers midfield, this being the latter’s first season to the game of soccer, he has settled in remarkably well. These two dictated the early exchanges and this gave Rovers a great platform to build attacks from. Patrick Larney and the ever willing Stephen Cunningham, up front, were causing trouble for the Carhaix defence, with their movement. Aaron Jones and Padraig Marron on the flanks were always looking to get involved and drive forward. On 7 minutes Rovers created the first good chance. Centre-half Thomas Finnegan cleared the ball into midfield were Wilson picked up possession before spraying a pass to Cunningham on the edge of the Carhaix area. He laid a ball into Marron’s path before he picked out Larney’s run in behind the defence perfectly. Larney took control before steering the ball passed the keeper but his precise shot hit the upright and rebounded to safety. DC began to come more into the game now and were asking questions of the home team. Fullbacks Ryan Carolan and the impressive Kevin Quinn, were being asked to make some crucial and timely tackles to stop Carhaix advancing. Rovers were having the better of possession and Wilson fashioned a shooting chance for himself on 16 minutes but his effort cleared the crossbar. Again Carhaix came back at Rovers and Ian Martin had to make a vital interception to prevent a DC forward getting a clean shot at Mark Kieran in the Carrick goals. Jones was growing into the game and was becoming more and more involved, with his sniping runs and his teasing footwork, he had the French defenders guessing which way he was going to go and it was from 1 of these runs in the 29th minute that Rovers produced their next good opportunity. Berg won possession as he had been doing all game before finding Carolan out on the right, he strode forward into the Carhaix half before picking out Jones on the touchline. Jones went on a mazy run taking on defender after defender before producing a great cross that found Marron drifting in at the far post but he couldn’t keep his header down. Again Rovers kept asking questions of the visitors defence with Larney pulling the strings and Wilson becoming more influential. The next opportunity fell to Cunningham whose shot just cleared the crossbar from a difficult position. Rovers were menacing from set pieces especially corners, with Larney’s and Marron’s delivery inviting people to attack them. Martin and Finnegan both nearly producing the final touch to the net but the ball being cleared. The half ended scoreless.
Carrick Rovers 0-0 DC de Carhaix
The 2nd half started as the 1st had with Rovers looking to reward all their good play. Cunningham was really putting himself about, pulling the visiting centre-halves all over the places and creating space for his own team-mates. After 56 minutes Carrick finally opened the scoring. Quinn gained possession and played a ball into Wilson. His through ball seemed to have been dealt with by the defence but Larney robbed the defender on the edge of the area before turning and placing a ball across the 6 yard box. Cunningham got ahead of his marker to finish passed the keeper for a true strikers goal. Rovers pushed now to add to their tally and should have made it 2 but the keeper made a remarkable save to keep out Cunningham’s goalbound header. Carhaix tried to get themselves back into the game but Finnegan and Martin were having outstanding games and Kieran’s handling and distribution in goals was exceptional. Rovers introduced Ronan O’Callaghan for Quinn at left-back and he was called straight into action to thwart an attack by DC. Rovers nearly made it 2-0, this time it was Wilson’s header that was palmed away by the keeper. Andrew Butler came on for the hard working Marron and 7 minutes later had a chance to score as Carolan and Jones combined again for Jones to cross but Butler’s shot was always rising. Rovers were pressing the French side in their own half and this forced the Carhaix lads to concede a few free-kicks in dangerous areas but Carrick wasted a few and when they did hit the target the keeper showed good handling. Conor Duffy came in for Carolan and made a great tackle inside the Rovers penalty area to nick the ball away from the striker and prevent a dangerous situation. Carhaix were having their best spell and nearly equalised from a delightful ball over the Carrick defence. The striker controlled before skipping round Kieran with the goal wide open but Martin slide into take the ball of his foot and Finnegan finished the clearance. With 10 minutes to go Rovers introduced Stephen Lynagh for the injured Wilson. Lynagh was involved straight away and nearly created an opening for Jones but the defender cleared the danger. Jamie Berg came in for Cunningham with 5 minutes to go as Rovers hope to see out the game. The changes seemed to disrupt Rovers shape and Carhaix created an opening with 2 minutes of normal time left. The ball was quickly played through midfield into the forward line where the two strikers combined to create a shooting chance but Kieran had raced off his line and spread himself to produce a brilliant save. With time up we entered injury time. Rovers were exhausted from their efforts and after a ball was intercepted in midfield the small midfielder picked it up and strode into the Carrick half. He got to within 30 yards of the Carrick goal before unleashing a terrific shot that had goal written all over it. It flew high into the roof of the net giving Kieran no chance. The referee blew as the game was restarted.
Fulltime Carrick Rovers 1-1 DC de Carhaix
This was new ground for this Rovers side and they had to dig deep as the French side had a new belief after salvaging a game that they thought had gone. Both 10 minute halves ended with no further score so it went to the dreaded penalty kicks.
Rovers were first up and Ryan Carolan drilled his spot-kick right in the corner. The Carhaix player stepped up and did the same. Next up it was Aaron Jones and he made no mistake. The next for DC was the young lad who had brought the game to extra-time and he tried to be inventive and do a 'Pirlo' but Kieran read it and stood tall. Larney was as accurate as usual to put pressure on the next Carhaix player, who missed. It was down to Padraig Marron to make himself a hero but the keeper stretched himself well and got the merest of finger-tips to turn the ball onto the post. The next DC player finished well but up came David Wilson to steer the ball to the corner of the net to scenes of joy from the whole team and local supporters.
Team: Mark Kieran, Ryan Carolan, Ian Martin, Thomas Finnegan, Kevin Quinn, Aaron Jones, Robert Berg, David Wilson, Patrick Larney, Stephen Cunningham, Padraig Marron, Ronan O’Callaghan, Andrew Butler, Stephen Lynagh, Conor Duffy, Jamie Berg and Aaron McMahon.
This is the 1st trophy that these lads have won and is a just reward for all their loyalty and commitment to each other. Lets hope it’s just the start of things to come.