Following on from two heavy home defeats at the hands of Castlebar Celtic in the league & Erris Utd in the cup, the time was now for Achill Rovers U13s to muster, reorganise and bounce back. The healing process began in the second half of the cup tie versus Erris and continued with a fine first half performance last week end away to Castlebar Celtic.
Achill travelled to Westport knowing that to keep their prospects of qualifying from Group B alive, nothing less than a victory would suffice. Castlebar Celtic have defeated all opponents in the group thus far and the three other remaining contenders Rovers, Snugboro Utd and Westport B, always looked to be playing each other for second place. Rovers have previously drawn at home to Westport, and away to Snugboro, where 10 men clawed back a 2-0 half time decifit. A 6-0 nil away win against Castlebar Town is rubbed from the records because of that teams withdrawal from the competition.
So to this weekend's match against Westport Utd B and the need to win. Straight from the kick off, Rovers took control of the game. Shutting out the opposition attack and pushing up defence; Rovers were now squeezing the midfield and filling the hole which usually appears in the middle of the park. Rovers looked more comfortable on the ball than of late, getting the ball down to feet, weighting their passing and more importantly retaining possession from which to mount promising attacks.
Fiachra McGuire on the wing has been a talisman this season and has been at the heart of Rovers most successful attacking play. Straight from the off, he was probing the Westport defence by getting the ball down and running the left wing. On fifteen minutes he played a floated ball from just inside the halfway line, over the heads of the Westport defence for Canice O'Sullivan to run on to. Canice who has moved up from defence to play in central midfield this season did the sublime pass full justice, by defly flicking the ball from a full 30 yards, and sailing it home over the outcoming keeper. This was a goal of quality, not only for the fantastic finish but also for the approach work and the beautifully timed pass. Truly a contender for "goal of the season" if there is such an award in this league .
Rovers continued the good start by keeping their shape and shutting out the Westport attack. The back three of Tiarnan Cooney, Tristan Carolan and Joe McGinty played their hearts out, winning the ball on most occasion. Oisin Cooney playing sweeper behind his back three, mopped up everything coming over the defence in front of him. The new look sweeper system has been sucessful since it was introduced two games back and Rovers defence is now looking a much meaner unit to score against. As per usual Eddie Doran was everywhere on the field pushing attack as well as helping in defence. Roy McLoughlin who has magical touch and skill linked up well in the midfield. Jason Gavin ran his socks off in the right wing and put in another solid all round performance. Brandon McGing the lone striker as per usual gave 110%.
So by half time Rovers were good for their lead. However a second goal was required in order to make this game more comfortable. Westport are no slouches and they had good enough players to come back at Rovers. The comfort zone was reached mid way through the second half when Fiachra McGuire came in from the left byline to score from an acute angle. A few minutes later Brandon McGing extended the lead when he was on hand to tap home a ball which again originated from the left hand side.
Westport to their credit, kept plugging away and came close on a few occasions. They were unlucky not to register a score, when a rifled shot bounced back off the post for Owen McNamara to keep his clean sheet. So this was to be Rovers afternoon and the spirited team performance was rounded off with a second goal for the highly deserving Fiachra McGuire and a 30 yard screamer of a free kick from Eddie Doran on the final whistle.
Rovers have shown all season their ability to compete. Not all results have gone their way, however they have learned their lessons and now appear to be hitting form at the right time. Saturday's win was the result of a full team effort and everybody that played can be satisfied with their personal performance. This includes the two substitutes Harry Malloy and Rhuari O'Sullivan who both came on and did their duty and so should also bask in the limelight
Next up for Rovers is their last game in this group which is at home to Snugboro Utd. Because of this important win over Westport B, qualification for the finals of this competition is now within their own hands.
Fiachra McGuire 2
Eddie Doran 1
Canice O'Sullivan 1
Brandon McGing 1
Harry Malloy ( for Jason Gavin )
Rhuari O'Sullivan ( for Brandon McGing ).