Remarkable Reds are County Champions

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Tuesday, October 6th, 2015
Community, News, Sport
ROSTREVOR MINORS 1-11 – 1-06 NEWRY SHAMROCKS By Kieran McNally at Pairc Esler, Newry. Conall Gordon lifted the Collie Curran cup at the end of a titanic tussle with Newry Shamrocks, as Rostrevor belied the pre-match predictions to become minor champions for 2015. rostrevor28Ryan Caulfield’s 48th minute goal was valuable for the young Reds in an action-packed second half in front of a large attendance at Pairc Esler. Fantastic performances throughout the field and an excellent level of fitness in the final quarter saw Rostrevor surge over the line, as Shamrocks fell short in the minor decider for the second consecutive year. This is Rostrevor’s seventh minor title with six of those arriving in the last thirteen seasons, which is tremendous. An exceptional achievement from this young side in the past couple of testing months for the club and players. They have done a lot of people extremely proud with their efforts. In a minor championship filled with drama, there were a number of teams that would have harboured aspirations of claiming the Collie Curran cup and as it transpired, Newry Shamrocks and Rostrevor would renew their rivalry from throughout this age group in the showpiece despite close inspection from Warrenpoint, Clonduff, Mayobridge and the highly fancied league and defending championship winners Burren. The Reds had scored three injury time points to pip their neighbours; Warrenpoint, in a dramatic finish to their semi-final, with the Newry side gaining revenge for last year’s defeat to Burren with a comeback victory also. In a manner befitting the season that had gone before it, the final was unpredictable at times, laced with quality at times and unforgettable at others. From Jody McGovern’s splendid first half goal for the Shamrocks to the influential James Rice’s Lazarus-like return to the field in the closing moments after his nasty injury in the second half, the final had it all. In truth, the match was rather cautious in the opening half and it was a proverbial game of chess. Both defences played extremely well for the entirety of the hour and must be lauded for their efforts with both captains; Gordan and Mark Harte, leading their charges well. Chris Killen, Mark Doyle for Rostrevor and Shea Harper in the Shamrocks’ defence all enjoyed fine afternoons. Both sides had early chances, but it was the Shamrocks who had the initial pick of them with Harper firing wide before the first pivotal moment arrived in the 6th minute. Jack O’Doherty engineered space to get a shot away and with Aidan Magee unsighted in the Reds’ goal, he fired a low drive towards the target. However, the ball rebounded off the post and away to safety, as Rostrevor survived. From that moment, came the first score of the game at the other end of the pitch. Joe Morgan and Nicky Murray were both involved before Conall Gordan stroked over the bar for a Rostrevor lead in the 8th minute. The Shamrocks’ response was immediate though, as Jody McGovern feigned into a wide position before angling over off his right boot for the leveller. Despite the Newry outfit’s early efforts, it was Rostrevor that had most of the first half possession and it eventually started to pay dividends. Blain McGrath was proving a dangerous target man in the inside line; despite an untimely illness, and he was involved as Rostrevor regained their lead in the 18th minute. His persistence gained a free for the accurate Conor Owens to send over. Joe Morgan’s 65th minute point was the clincher in the semi-final and he opened his account moments after Owens’ free with a neat left-footed effort. Trailing by 0-3 to 0-1, the Shamrocks were finding it difficult to find Jody McGovern in a position to really trouble the posts with Cormac McGrath continuing his tremendous championship form for the Reds. Jordan Murphy hit a fine point to narrow the gap, but McGovern can only be kept under wraps for so long. During the opening half, a number of balls into the excellent forward were snuffed out, but there was nothing that could be done when he leapt into the sky to field the high delivery into him before turning and unleashing a high drive past a flat-footed Aidan Magee in the 26th minute. That put Shamrocks in front for the first time and with Rostrevor’s final ball deserting them at vital times despite their possession, the favourites were decent shape it seemed. Conor Owens converted a free, which he did very well to win in the final minute of the half, as the Shamrocks carried a single-point advantage into the interval. Half Time: Rostrevor 0- 04 – 1-02 Newry Shamrocks The half-time introduction of the excellent Shane Hanna appeared to be a smart move from Martin Tumilty and Redmond Hanna, as the exciting Hanna was so imperative to the second-half revival from the Shamrocks in their semi success. He was instantly involved with an early shot fading wide of the post; however, it was Rostrevor that started brightly in the second half. Joe Morgan and Conor Owens were both unlucky with shots before Aaron Fearon slotted over an equaliser in the 36th minute. Hanna fired over an immediate point to cancel out Fearon’s effort before the dramatic final twenty minutes started with a key moment. Rostrevor’s inspirational James Rice caught another ball, as the fantastic tussle that pitted Rice and Ardghal McMahon against Gavin Fox and Jack Mallon in the midfield sector continued to enthral. However as he came down with Mark Harte, he landed with force on his back and was treated by a combination of Rostrevor and Shamrocks physios before finally walking off the pitch to be replaced by Ryan Caufield. Indeed, the loss of James was big one for the Reds, but one couldn’t have expected the Rostrevor response. Ardghal McMahon’s championship contribution in the midfield alongside Rice had been emphasised with goals in the group win over the Newry men, and against Clonduff and Warrenpoint in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively. He stepped up to the plate again in the second half with two superb points in quick succession overturning the Shamrock’s one-point lead entering the final quarter; 0-7 to 1-3 in favour of Rostrevor. The Reds were suddenly shifting through the gears and brushing past their rivals in search of scores with the priceless Conall Gordon sending over a captain’s score in the 46th minute for a two-point lead. Jody McGovern sent over a point via the post, but Shamrocks were starting to labour against an ultra-fit Rostrevor; which is testimony to the work done on the training ground by Kieran Mooney and Sean Gordon, as manager Eamon Devlin alluded to in the aftermath. The quick-moving Reds were soon to gain the initiative conclusively in the 48th minute, as the most valuable of goals arrived. The ball was worked to Blain McGrath and he sidestepped Conor Hughes and net minder Jack Heaney to shoot with the ball being bravely blocked by a combination of the two. Ryan Caulfield was on hand though, and he picked up from where McGrath left off to drive the ball inside Heaney’s near post with the keeper making a last-ditch dive in vain. Suddenly, the favourites were four behind; 1-8 to 1-4. The Shamrocks brought Dylan Power on to the park in the hope that his incisive running would put Rostrevor under pressure in the closing minutes and with Jody McGovern’s free bringing the gap down to three points entering the final five minutes, the impetus was on them to find scores from somewhere. It was Ardghal McMahon that provided the next score though, as Rostrevor kept themselves in the ascendancy with Conor Owens punting a free from close range to ensure a five-point lead entering five minutes of stoppage time. Remarkable scenes were to quickly follow, as James Rice returned to the pitch for the final moments after his earlier forced substitution to raucous noise from the Rostrevor support. Shamrocks tried everything they could, but they really did need goals. Liam Rafferty fired over a point, but their biggest chance came and went when Jack Mallon’s goal-bound effort was blocked close to the posts in the 63rd minute. Worse was to follow for the Shamrocks, as Jody McGovern received a black card; followed by a red, for dissent. One felt that any chance of a Shamrock’s survival act left the pitch with him. Chris Killen sent over a final point in the last minute of stoppage time; with the aid of a deflection, before Darren O’Hare’s full time whistle arrived to spark mass celebrations from the players, management and supporters. Rostrevor had done it again with Conall Gordon lifting the Collie Curran cup for the Reds, as the field was painted in red and black jerseys and jubilation. Commiserations to an excellent Shamrocks team that hosts some of the finest players to have played at this level in the previous two seasons. There is no doubt that those players will come again in the future. For Rostrevor, it is an excellent triumph in the most testing of circumstances over the past number of weeks in the face of some tough opposition, but the players’ resolve was unblemished and they deserve the success without any reservation. Following the team all season, it was clear that this could happen and it has happened despite the rollercoaster that the campaign proved to be. Congratulations to Eamon Devlin, Kieran Mooney, Sean Gordon, Leo Fearon and Brian Fitzpatrick; and the entire squad for their unrelenting efforts being rewarded in yet another county championship success for the club. The team progresses to the Ulster championship at St. Paul’s G.A.C. on the Shaws Road in West Belfast in the closing weeks of the year for a sixth time since 2003. Rostrevor panel and final scorers: Aidan Magee, Chris Killen (0-1), James Donaghy, Mark Doyle, Conall Gordon © (0-2), Nicky Murray, Cormac McGrath, James Rice, Ardghal McMahon (0-3), Conor Owens (0-3 3f), Joe Morgan (0-1), Blain McGrath, Aaron Fearon (0-1), Peter Magee, Fearghal Murphy, Ryan Caufield (1-0), Tomas Gordon, Michael McNally, John Ferrick, Ronan McAteer and Tiernan Tinnelly.
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