Carrick Rovers 17’s made the trip to Athboy last Saturday week to play the local side in a NECSL Premier League match. Rovers had the Glasgow Celtic Academy Coaches in tow as they took time to travel with these lads even though it was their day off. The Athboy side were a big, physical team and made the opening period very hard for the Carrick lads. The game was being played on a tight, bumpy pitch and this meant that you had to be very sure of your touch and time on the ball was minimal. Both sides exchanged some crunching tackles especially in the midfield area where Patrick Larney, Rob Berg and Padraig Marron had a tough contest on their hands from the Athboy pairs pure physical strength.
With the pitch being so tight the ball was never far from the penalty areas at either end and it was hard for the Rovers side to create some space out wide but on 15 minutes Kevin Quinn gained possession in the opposition half and released Ryan Carolan wide on the right off the Athboy box. Carolan coolly slipped passed his marker before firing for goal but the keeper got 2 strong hands to his drive and pushed the ball over the crossbar. Rovers were now starting to use the ball a lot smarter now and Patrick Larney was beginning to pick up some nice positions just outside the Athboy area. The next chance came from a free kick 30 yards from the Athboy goal on the left side of the area. David Wilson and Ryan Carolan stood over the ball with Wilson moving the ball so Carolan could shoot for goal but his effort took a deflection and just cleared the crossbar. Rovers eventually broke the deadlock on 31 minutes when the returning Daniel McDonald got on the end of a through ball from Marron to control and place his effort beyond the Keeper and into the bottom corner. Rovers concentration slipped and within 2 minutes Athboy were level. A simple ball in behind the Rovers defense should have been cleared from danger but the Athboy player never gave up and won possession before firing passed Mark Kieran in the Rovers goal. This rocked Rovers and it took them awhile to settle back into their stride . Again it was Carolan on the right wing who was causing most trouble and it was his run in the 41st minute that created space for Larney inside to steer his shot into the back of the net. Again Rovers didn’t learn to keep the pressure on and from the next Athboy attack the home side regained parity again.
Half Time Athboy 2-2 Carrick Rovers
After a Half time team talk Rovers came out in the 2nd half determined to keep playing good attacking football and asking the home side questions and after 12 minutes they got their reward when Quinn broke forward on the right and found Carolan and his 1st time cross was destined for McDonald’s head only for a defender to get a touch but Larney was behind him and adjusted well to smash a volley passed the keeper. This seemed to spur Rovers on and from there on it was all one way traffic. In the 65th minute Matthews should have extended the lead after a great move involving Wilson, Larney, Berg and Marron, with Marron providing a pinpoint cross but Matthews header just cleared the crossbar. On 73 minutes Carrick did add to their score when again McDonald on his return, was making a nuisance of himself in the Athboy area and this time Larney picked him out with a perfect pass and the striker placed his shot into the corner. The striker completed his hat-trick on 81 minutes with a brave header to finish of good work from O’Callaghan, who’d replaced Carolan, and Quinn on the left wing. Rovers couldn’t add to their score but continued to press forward.
Full Time Athboy 2-5 Carrick Rovers
Team: Mark Kieran, Kevin Quinn, David Wilson, Ian Martin, Thomas Finnegan, Ryan Carolan, Patrick Larney, Rob Berg, Padraig Marron, Cian Matthews, Daniel McDonald and Ronan O’Callaghan.