Carrick Rovers 17’s squad progressed to the Final of the NECSL HSE Cup Final at the expense of Torro on Saturday morning. Rovers were short a few regulars due to injury and other commitments so called up some of our players from younger squads to boost the ranks. The game started evenly enough with a stark contrast of styles evident early on with Torro being the more physical and direct and the home side using their pace and passing to try to create chances. Michael Monahan from the 16’s partnered Ian Martin in the centre of the defense and the 2 played like they had been a partnership for years.
Ryan Carolan and Ronan O’Callaghan played each side of them and formed a great shield in front of Mark Kieran’s goal. Rovers midfield was made up of find of the season, Rob Berg, Padraig Marron and Patrick Larney and as the game progressed they grew into the dominant force in the middle of the park. Aaron Jones and Cian Matthews gave great options on the wings with Daniel McDonald a good counterfoil upfront.
The 1st real opportunity came Rovers way in the 14th minute when Carolan gained possession and threaded a ball down the line to Jones, who traded passes with Larney before flashing the ball across the 6 yard area but McDonald couldn’t keep his effort on target. The next opportunity again fell to McDonald from a Matthews cross but again the strikers acrobatic bicycle kick was off target. In the 31st minute, Larney tried his luck from range but didn’t trouble the keeper. Matthews had an effort in the 36th minute that flew over the crossbar.
The match was very even at this point, with Rovers the more creative without really troubling the Torro keeper, then in the 39th minute the deadlock was broken after good work from Carolan, who found Berg in space the midfielder picked out Jones run into space perfectly and the tricky winger quickly released Larney on the right hand side of the Torro area. Larney looked up and floated a delightful ball over the advancing keeper into the far corner with Matthews following up just in case.
Rovers now pressed for another and Andrew Butler, introduced for McDonald, combined with Marron to race to the byline and pick out Larney’s run with a slide rule pass, but the usually lethal Larney scooped the ball over with the goal at his mercy. Carrick smelt blood and added the 2nd just before half-time with a moment of magic. Matthews and Marron worked the ball down the left and the latter’s cross was deflected to Larney with his back to goal. Larney swiveled and struck a fantastic strike to the top corner of the net, giving the keeper no chance.
Half Time Carrick Rovers 2-0 Torro
The next goal in this game was always going to be crucial and we didn’t have to wait long for it as Torro kicked the 2nd half off with a pass back, Jones raced to pressure the Torro player and took possession before rounding another and drawing the Keeper forward then slipping the ball under him into the empty net. Within 3 minutes the game was wrapped up after Jones again pressed the Torro defense high up the pitch before winning the ball and heading for goal. He found himself 1-v-1 with the keeper again and in a carbon copy of his first goal he slipped the ball under him but this time the ball came back of the upright but Butler had shown great awareness to follow in and smashed the rebound home. Rovers made several changes now with Kevin Quinn coming on for Carolan, Jack Corr replaced Matthews, Stephen Lynagh came in for Jones and Liam McGeough took Martin’s place.
Rovers looked comfortable for the rest of the game with Kieran only called to make a few saves which he dealt with well. The game began to get more patchy and the next good chance came Corr’s way when Marron found him with a decent cross which Corr met first time, but his volley was just wide. Butler broke clear on the right and his fine cross just evaded Lynagh’s out stretched leg. In the 81st minute Rovers sealed the win when the majestic Berg broke up another Torro move and sweeped forward. He picked out Marron who released Butler on the left. The winger picked out the reintroduced Jones inside the area and he side footed the ball into the bottom corner. Marron drove a shot just over the angle of crossbar and upright with minutes to go and Rovers saw out the remainder of the game in control.
Full Time Carrick Rovers 5-0 Torro
Team: Mark Kieran, Ryan Carolan, Ian Martin, Michael Monahan, Ronan O’Callaghan, Aaron Jones, Patrick Larney, Rob Berg, Padraig Marron, Cian Matthews, Daniel McDonald, Andrew Butler, Kevin Quinn, Jack Corr, Steven Lynagh, Liam McGeough, Conor Duffy and David Garland.