Young Partnes push “Mighty Hoops” all the Way

The curtain came down on the Monaghan United / Cavan FP’s Under 13’s National League season on Saturday last with another fantastic but frustrating encounter against the cream of the League of Ireland’s academies Shamrock Rovers FC in Cootehill. This was the first time these sides had met this season and a place in the National Cup semi-final was at stake. The visitors had already reached one semi-final this season and started the game brightly putting the home defence on the back foot early on. An attack down the “Partners” right wing in the 7th minute resulted in a cross into the area that should have been easily cleared but when the ball bobbled about the 6 yard area Peter Geraghty made no mistake dispatching the ball to the back of Thomas Brady’s net. It wasn’t the start the young “Partners” wanted but these lads have shown throughout the course of this inaugural season of the National u13’s League that on their day they are well able to compete with the so called “elite” and well established Clubs at this age level. The Cavan / Monaghan lads began to gain more and more possession with Luke Allison and Ben Tully getting to grips with their opponents in midfield. Adam Mullins was causing all sorts of trouble down the “Partners” right wing and it was from his cross in the 12th minute that Matthew Carolan had the first real opportunity for the hosts. Within minutes his strike partner Matthew Finn flashed an effort just wide of Jake Whelan’s upright as the “Partners” began to take control of the game at this stage. Another link up involving Mullins and Carolan saw the ball switched out to Jack Coombes-Morris on the left of the Rovers area but his effort was straight at Whelan. Rovers were always a threat going forward with the powerful Carmicheal Uchenna causing the centre-half pairing of Luke Povall and Sean O’Connell lots of problems and it was a vital interception by O’Connell in the 24th minute that prevented the strong Rovers striker from adding to their score. The home side drew level 5 minutes later after Allison drove forward from midfield and linked up with Carolan. The tall No.10 took control before laying the perfect pass into Coombes-Morris’s path and the Cavan Town native coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner leaving Whelan motionless. The Rovers stopper showed his class 4 minutes later when Carolan looped a shot goal-wards only for the keeper to finger-tip over his crossbar. From the resulting corner, Coombes-Morris swung a brilliant delivery to the back post where O’Connell connected firmly with a downward header but Whelan somehow pushed the ball behind for another corner. The “Partners” finished the half in the ascendency but with no further score.
Half-time: MUCFP u13’s 1 Shamrock Rovers FC u13’s 1.
Rovers came out after a long half-time team talk obviously ruffled by the host’s first half performance and set about taking the game to the “Partners”. They made 3 half-time substitutions to inject some new impedes into their efforts but again they found the MUCFP’s defence rock solid with Ben Smith and Sean Og Teevan assisting Povall and O’Connell ably. Rovers influential Captain Naj Razi began to drive his side forward and the introduction of Jamie Clarke up front gave the “Partners” another problem to deal with. Brady’s handling had to be spot on in the 48th minute from a long range effort from John O’Sullivan and his immediate distribution up field had the Rovers defence back peddling with Matthew Finn taking possession just inside the penalty area before being bundled over by a Rovers defender. Coombes-Morris made no mistake from the spot as again he effortlessly picked out the bottom corner. Again the Rovers Management responded by making more changes. Finn almost increased the hosts lead in the 57th minute when his strike drifted just wide of Rovers substitute keeper JP Johnston’s post. Rovers “pocket rocket” Ryan Ritchie had been buzzing about the pitch all throughout the match but showed his class in the 63rd minute cutting inside Teevan to unleash a shot on goal but again Brady was equal to it. The “Partners” continued to push forward and forced Rovers to concede several corners. It was from one of these in the 65th minute that Rovers equalised as they quickly turned defence into attack and Clarke finished the move off after going around the advancing Brady. The “Partners” showed no inferiority towards their illustrious opponents as they were determined to push on and win the match. Luke Povall must have thought that he had scored in the 68th minute when he met Coombes-Morris’s corner perfectly with a downward header but Johnston sprang to his right Gordon Banks like to turn the ball around his upright to the disbelief of the home players. It was a cruel piece of misfortune that lead to the Rovers winner 2 minutes later when Tully’s attempted clearance from a Rovers corner struck the Referee before floating back over the on-rushing “Partners” defence where Orlandas Jakas picked up the loose ball before squaring the ball to Ritchie to finish to the net. To the protests of all the “Partners” players the official allowed the goal. The Cavan / Monaghan lads continued to press for an equaliser but it was Brady who was called into action in the dying moments when he had to stretch his big frame to finger-tip a rising Razi effort away from the top corner.
Full-Time: MUCFP u13’s 2 Shamrock Rovers FC u13’s 3.
Team: T. Brady, B. Smith, L. Povall, S. O’Connell, S. Og Teevan, B. Tully, L. Allison, A. Mullins, M. Carolan, M. Finn and J. Coombes-Morris.
Substitutes: Tom Doherty for Smith, Daniel Kelly for Teevan, Jamie McCaughey for Finn, Conor Burns for Tully and Caolain Clerkin for Carolan. Injured Sub: Enna Owen Carolan.

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