Rock Celtic 3rds manager Alan Farrelly paid tribute to his young side after they pulled off a major upset by beating Muirhevnamor 2nds in Saturday’s MDL Reserve Cup final at Glenmuir.
The Seasiders play in the MDL C Reserve, three tiers below the reserve top flight and Farrelly said that his side winning the cup was the equivalent of “a Conference team winning the FA Cup in England.”
“These lads have done it all on their own,” he said. “None of them have played with the reserve team this year and, likewise, none of the reserves have been with us today.
“In the early rounds they were losing 5-2 to Ardee Celtic and came back and won 6-5. They were losing 3-1 to Quay in Blackrock and came back and won 4-3 after extra-time so I think they deserve to win the cup.
“It’s a very young team. We had two 16-years olds, two 18-year-olds and four 19-year-olds out there today. The only pity is that Rory Connolly, our captain, wasn’t included because he got injured in one of the earlier rounds.”
Reflecting on action packed game, Farrelly felt that referee John Crawley’s decisions to award his side a penalty and send Muirhevnamor goalkeeper David Cooney off after just three minutes was a huge factor in deciding the game.
“The early sending off of the goalkeeper, inside the first five minutes, really changed the game. It let us get ahead and after that we looked dangerous on the break,” he said.
“The second goal was maybe a wee bit dubious,” he admitted. “Muirhevnamor had a lot to say about it but I thought Brendan Rogers finished it very well. The lads were prepared to go out and dig in for the second-half and try and nick a third on the break which is what we did.”
At 3-0, the game looked to be over but Muirhevnamor were thrown a lifeline when Crawley awarded a penalty for a handball against Glady Myapa in the 52nd minute. Rock goalkeeper Jordan Mackin kept Sean Dixon’s first effort out but Dixon converted when Crawley controversially ordered a retake after his assistant spotted some of the Muirhevnamor coaching staff on the pitch.
“We were disappointed that the referee made them retake it because Jordan made a superb save from the first effort. When they got the second goal we looked nervous but we settled down again and ran out easy winners in the end,” said Farrelly.
The win caps a memorable season for this Rock Celtic side. Unbeaten in the C Reserve league campaign, they were unlucky to lose to a strong Clogher Town side in the title play-off. Their only other defeat came against Premier Reserve champions Woodview Reserves in the Gerry Reilly Cup.
“We have pushed everybody throughout the whole season. To come through it and lose just those two games is unbelievable,” added the proud manager.