It was a long time coming but victory is unlikely to have felt sweeter this weekend as the 40 year wait for an Irish Senior Cup title finally came to an end.
The lads pulled out two incredible performances this weekend to win a spot in next years European competitions.
In a repeat of lads years semis the guys made sure of their final spot this time with an emphatic 4-0 win over rivals Monkstown. Returning to the club for some well earned food by Rachel that evening, they prepared for Pembroke the next day. In a tight game full of drama they were tied in dead-lock at 2-2 with Pembroke even after extra time, sending the game to strokes. Joe, Huub, Blakers, Gaz all put theirs away, while Westy made a crucial save for Pembrokes 3rd stroke to set up Pete McConnell as the match winner.
Many thanks to everyone in the club for the support this weekend and in the weeks leading to this. The seasons not over by a long way so please continue to show your support until the very end!
Findos reports for both the semi and the final are here now. We will have more coverage later in the week. Adrian Bohems photos are now on this site in the photos section while inpho photography and sports files can be seen here:
If you want to relive the winning moments AerTv have the game online all the way up to the presentation and afters! http://sportslive.aertv.ie/video/?bctid=3248914769001
TRR 4 - 0 Monkstown
Three Rock produced one of the performances of the season to date to comprehensively outdo Monkstown, getting one of their major monkeys off their back as they showed a defensive rigidity to go with their razor-sharp attacking game
They scored four superb team goals to go with a first clean sheet since the turn of the year – and just third all season – to make this semi against the reigning champions done and dusted with plenty of time to go. Town had started well, winning a couple of corners that Stephen West did well parry away for long corners, one particularly good double stop from Andy Ewington and Gareth Watkins.
Town briefly thought they were ahead from a deflected crash ball that West stepped over but the touch appeared to be well outside the circle despite vehement protestations that delayed the gameBut after that initially shaky start, Rovers bossed the tie. They went ahead on the half hour from a direct move from a 16-yard free out which Joe Brennn played into midfield to Mick Maguire who in turn went straight to Mitch Darling whose backhand pass laid up Fred Morris to slap through David Fitzgerald.
Huub de With was a dominant force in midfield and he was pivotal to a lovely second goal, walked in by Mitch Darling after a sweet interchange with Peter Blakeney. He also took the long corner that created number three, ghosting across the top of the 25 before stopping the ball for Jody Hosking who whipped home a reverse from the top.
Jonny Bruton then created the fourth in the 50th minute when Maguire flipped a ball down the right wing. The Cork man battled in between two defenders and picked out Maguire who had followed up 50 metres. He smartly laid off for Darling for another open goal finish.
Bruton was laterally sin-binned but Monkstown were unable to profit and they went over 34 minutes without getting a shot off and while they did rally in the closing stages, they did not create too many clear chances. It reversed last year’s semi-final between the same teams and saw Rovers reach their first final since the 1990s.
Three Rock Rovers: S West, G Ringwood, J Brennan, A Haughton, P McConnell, H de With, J Hosking, M Maguire, M Darling, J Bruton, P Blakeney
Subs: H Morris, F Morris, A White D Walsh, A Bothwell
Monkstown: D Fitzgerald, L Cole, I Horsfield, N Dee, D Carson, G Watkins, R Sykes, A Ewington, A Ward, G Shaw, K Good
Subs: A Ward, G O’Halloran, R Watkins, K Kenning, J Henry
Umpires: K Cholewa, W McCully
TRR 2 - 2 Pembroke Wanderers
TRR win 5-4 on penalty strokes
Three Rock Rovers ended a 40-year wait for the men’s Irish Senior Cup final in nerve-shredding fashion at Belfield as Peter McConnell kept his cool to fire home the crucial penalty stroke.
It was redemption of sorts for the left back who was sin-binned for the closing ten minutes of normal time for a foul on Ronan Flannery and while his side initially dealt with the corner that ensued, Tim Hill grabbed an equaliser during his absence that ultimately sent the tie to extra time. But he was calmest man in the National Hockey Stadium when it came down to the final penalty, picking his spot low past Mark Ingram to complete a perfect set of five strokes allied to one diving Stephen West to see Three Rock end their long wait for this title.
Indeed, McConnell – as a fifth year student in Wesley College – was one of three survivors in the Three Rock side from their last appearance in the final 15 years ago of world hockey’s oldest club competition along with Alan Bothwell and Garry Ringwood, the latter also netting in the stroke competition.
It sparked wild celebrations, not least from the large number of members of the 1974 team, after a cagey, engaging encounter after normal time had finished 2-2.
The game did not have as much swagger as Saturday’s semi-finals. Pembroke adopted a compact press that negated Three Rock’s speed through midfield and attack, limiting Huub de With and Johnny Bruton’s avenues of attack though there was space down the channels for Peter Blakeney, Jody Hosking and Ali Haughton to open up their legs.
Pembroke started the brighter in a lively opening stanza with Flannery and Mick O’Connor’s interchanged drawing the first corner. West stood tall to palm away Alan Sothern’s flick while he also denied the same man’s stinging reverse.
The momentum was slowed as the half wore on, not lease by a trio of Pembroke green cards for Mark Loughrey, Patrick Shanahan and Mick O’Connor. Rovers could not avail of a brief two-man advantage and half-time came with no goals.
That stat changed seven minutes into the second period when Karl Lynch won his side’s second corner and while the move did not go to plan, Harte latched on to a half-cleared ball and clipped home a crisp backhand shot.
It drew more urgency from Rovers and they played their best hockey in the minutes after the goal. Mitch Darling – an effervescent force up front – almost wormed one shot through Ingram’s pads from close range while the Pembroke net-minder pulled off a brilliant double save from Hosking and Darling soon after.
The equaliser took five minutes to arrive as de With barged his way through two light tackles and pumped the ball from right to left on an inviting 45 degree angle where Darling nipped in to deflect home. That pair combined to win Rovers’ only corner and while it was also fluffed, Peter Blakeney had the presence of mind to lift the ball past the number one runner and drag the ball into net in the 52nd minute.
Once ahead, Rovers attempted to go back into a keep-ball phase but they were caught out when a ball into midfield and Flannery burst forward, drawing that foul from McConnell. Once again, Sothern was denied by West, this time in incredible fashion from a follow-up shot, deflecting the ball onto the bar, tweaking his hamstring in the process.
Respite was short, however, as the ball was worked back around to Conor Harte who won a free just outside the 22. His long passes had been one of the features of the game and he used a disguised sweep to perfect effect to pick out the dive of Hill, a former Rover, to guide home for 2-2 on the hour.
Pembroke, though, may not regret pushing on during their man-advantage and no further chances accrued in the closing stages. Likewise, extra time was shy on drama at the end of a long weekend bar Harry Spain’s yellow card.
It meant strokes with six successfully converted before West denied Karl Lynch in round four and McConnell made amends in the most pressurised of situations.
Three Rock Rovers: S West, A Haughton, J Brennan, G Ringwood, P McConnell, J Hosking, H De With, M McGuire, M Darling, J Bruton, P Blakeney.
Subs: H Morris, F Morris, A White, D Walsh, A Bothwell
Pembroke: M Ingram, M Loughrey, C Harte, D Kane, H Spain, C Lynch, P Shanaghan, R Flannery, A Sothern, M O’Connor, C Hynes
Subs: D Harvey, S McKeever, C Wilson, T Hill, K Crawford
Umpires: R Johnston, G Caulwell
Updated 12:14 - 27 Feb 2014 by Ali Keogh