Historic treble for Rock

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Historic treble for Rock thumbnailRock celebrate their Ulster championship triumph.

ON A historic afternoon at Pairc Esler, Rock became the first club to win three Ulster Club Junior Football Championship titles, and the first from Tyrone to complete a treble at any level.

After Extra Time

But it was only after extra-time that the St Patrick's emerged triumphant from a thrilling decider against Monaghan's Blackhill.

They held out heroically for a slender one point win to add the Paul Kerr Cup to the Tyrone JFC trophy, both of which will hold pride of place at the club's gala centenary ball next weekend.

Aidan McGarrity scored the all-important goal in extra-time, and once again teamed up superbly up front with Conor McCreesh, with whom he shared a 1-10 haul.

“It was a fantastic outcome for us, especially when you look at our second half performance. Aidan Gervin came back from Australia for us and really made a difference when he came on in terms of winning breaking ball," said Rock manager Adrian Nugent.

“A panel is key to something like this and the game showed the strength of ours. It's a great achievement, different players stood up. Diarmuid Carroll and Aidan McGarrity worked really hard, as well as Conor McCreesh.

“Ciaran Gourley has three All-Ireland medals for Tyrone and now three Ulster club medals, yet he still has that drive. He pulled off a great block by diving at his foot. That desire to leave everything out there made the difference and there was that bit of desire.

“The goal was a big one and it showed the inner belief within the squad that if something doesn't work first time, then keep trying. We have talked about taking chances throughout year, and the importance of every player taking a shot."

Now the attentions will turn to the new year and a crack at the All-Ireland title, with a semi-final against Leinster opposition on January 25.

“It's great to win this title and hopefully it will give us a boost for Division Two now. We'll start preparing for the All-Ireland semi-final and hope that we can go one better than a couple of years ago.

“Two years ago we felt that we left it behind a bit against Brosna in the All-Ireland semi-final so that's something we'll be wanting to improve on. We have about five players on the panel who are U-17 and weren't able to play this year and they'll be ready to step in if they're needed next year as well."

Diarmuid Carroll had Rock ahead inside 22 seconds, and the Tyrone champions continued to put their opponents under pressure, but they were denied by tenacious defending from Thomas Courtney and James Daly.

It was wing back Daly who got forward to open the Farney side's account in the third minute, but Rock went back in front with a superb McGarrity effort.

The Rock full forward was having a terrific tussle with Ryan Courtney, who helped his side build from deep, while Donal Courtney was magnificent in his personal duel with Conor McCreesh.

Dermot Daly levelled again from a free, but Ciaran Gourley won the free that McGarrity steered over from 40 metres at the end of the opening quarter.

Tommy Bloomer tracked back to help out as the St Patrick's defence came under increasing pressure, but the impressive Hugh Byrne used his strength to win a 50-50 ball and swing it over the bar.

And the Monaghan men went ahead for the first time in the 27th minute when Colin Woods collected from Darren Woods to hit a point on the turn.

Late in the half, McGarrity and Daly exchanged points, and Blackhill went in at the break with a 0-5 to 0-4 advantage.

They went further ahead through Colin Woods, and while Rock did have their chances in the opening stages of the second half, their finishing was not up to scratch.

McCreesh moved to full forward, and scored with his first shot at the posts, the opportunity created by McGarrity's turnover in his own half back line.

And the pair crafted a glorious goal chance moments late, McCreesh flicking the ball into McGarrity's path, and with just the goalkeeper to beat, he fired his shot low and just wide.

McCreesh was now faring much better against marker Donal Courtney, and won the free that he tapped over himself to edge his side back in front in the 45th minute.

Aidan Girvan, who came into the game at the beginning of the second half, was emerging as major figure around the central area, his experience helping to settle those around him.

Tommy Bloomer got back to avert a dangerous situation with a perfectly timed tackle on Byrne, but the ball was recycled to Ciaran Courtney, who brought the sides level for the sixth time.

Rock lost full back Niall Mullan to a black card ten minutes from the end, but opened up a two points lead when McGarrity and McCreesh both converted frees.

But referee Dan Mullan added six minutes of stoppage time, and Blackhill came back for two late scores, one from corner back Aaron Kenny, the other a free from Dermot Daly in the sixth minute of additional time which tied it up at 0-9 each.

Blackhill, who had lost Byrne to a second booking late on, were back to the full complement of 15 for extra-time, but the Red Hand representatives made an explosive start with a 1-1 blast from the brilliant McGarrity.

First he curled over a delightful point from wide on the left, and moments later collected Diarmuid Carroll's slipped pass tp pick his spot in the bottom corner of the net for a superb goal.

Carroll and McCreesh added points and Rock led by 1-12 to 0-11 at the turnaround.

They failed to score in the second period, while the Monaghan men clawed their way back with three points, but Rock held out, thanks in no small way to a heroic Gourley block on Woods in the dying moments.

Rock - Seamus Donaghy, Peter Ward, Niall Mullan, Niall McWilliams, Cathal McWilliams, Stephen Mullan, Ciaran Gourley, Diarmuid Carroll (0-2), Enda McWilliams, Tommy Bloomer, Eamon Ward, Conor McCreesh (0-5), Ryan Crilly, Aidan McGarrity (1-5), Paudie Ward.

Subs - Aidan Girvan for E Ward, Peter Ward for N Mullan, E Ward for P Ward (55).


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