Rockmount edge out Rangers in FAI Cup First Round

In very much a game of two halves, it was Rockmount who progress to the next round of the FAI Cup…

The first half saw Rockmount on top with the majority of the possession and looking the more threatening. The first chance came as Ian Mylod of Rockmount delivered a fantastic ball into the Rangers penalty area that caused some confusion in the defence, the ball broke to the edge of the box but two Rockmount players actually got in each other’s way and it came to nothing. Moments later the ever-dangerous Rockmount left winger Dean O’Connell, who caused havoc all day, got to the byline and whipped another enticing ball into the box which ricocheted around the box and resulted in a Rockmount player hitting the deck, calls for a penalty followed but the referee was unmoved.

It was far from just one-way traffic as on the 25th-minute mark, Rangers reminded us of their quality going forward. Conor Casserley, who showed great energy getting up and down the touchline from right full all day, linked up well with Ethan Vickers who put in a good cross and this time a Rangers attacker ended up on the floor, giving Rangers their own penalty claim but again the referee was not interested.

Rangers had another chance a few minutes later but a very unorthodox one. Luke Greene who was pressing and defending from the front but in a sliding challenge on the Rockmount centre half and the ball was sent flying goalwards leaving David Browne in the goal scrambling to get back as the ball sailed just over the crossbar.

Following this Rockmount began to take control of the game for the rest of the half. They nearly took the lead on the half-hour mark. Another wicked cross from the left caused carnage in the Rangers box and was sent goalwards only for Sean Murphy to clear it off the line. Rockmount finally took the lead that their performance deserved on 40 minutes, it was not without controversy, however. It again started with Dean O’Connell on the Rockmount left trying to attack his defender, but it looked like the ball had gone for a throw-in before it was cleared for a Rangers corner. I must say from my view it looked like the ball had clearly gone out over the line but neither the ref nor the assistant referee decided that it had. From the resulting Rockmount corner Jack O’Sullivan the big centre half got free at the back stick and rose highest to bury a header.

Half Time: Gorey Rangers 0-1 Rockmount AFC

It was very much a case of roles reversed in the second half as Rangers were the dominant side and Rockmount were doing the majority of the defending. Right after halftime a delivery from a wide free kick caused a goalline scramble but Rangers couldn’t find the final touch to send it goalbound. On 55 minutes, there was a flowing attacking move that got the ball to Conor Casserley on the right and Conor drove inside and played a pass to Luke Greene who in turn played a one-touch pass to Ethan Vickers who tried to play another pass to the man over who was in space 12 yards out but just couldn’t find the right connection.

From here on, it was all Rangers who were pushing and pushing to find an equaliser and they created a number of half chances. Paul Brennan, who was Rangers best attacker on the day, was a constant danger on the left wing and created two good opportunities. Firstly, he got the ball wide, cut in and drove at the defence. Paul tried to link up and play a one-two at the edge of the box but there was just too much on the return ball. Next time he got the ball he showed some crafty feet to twist his marker inside out but there was just too much on his delivery. Paul was outstanding on the day and would be a contender for man of the match which was why it was a very curious decision to see him replaced with 10 minutes to go as he looked like he was the one to make things happen for Rangers.

As Rangers pressed for an equaliser with 10 minutes to go they had to throw caution to the wind and they knew it would leave gaps that could be exploited and that is exactly what happened. The colossal Sean Murphy strode out from centre back and continued his run forward to join the attack but unfortunately for him and Rangers the ball got turned over and Rockmount broke with lightning quickness. As the ball was turned over, Jake Courtney was slipped in behind and raced clear and finished with aplomb when one-on-one with the Rangers keeper Conor Kinsella who was left with no chance.

A team with the quality of Rockmount only need a moment and they can take the game away from you. Rangers didn’t lie down and throw in the towel to their credit. Dan Brennan had a great chance from a header after another excellent Casserley delivery from the right. Rangers managed to get a consolation goal in injury time. A long ball over the top that looked to be a lost cause was chased and despite the Rockmount defender and keeper seeming to be in control, Mick Molloy refused to take no for an answer and wouldn’t be denied as he got a toe to the ball and knocked it past the keeper into the net.

Man of the match for me was between three players;

Dean O’Connell was absolutely phenomenal in the first half but as Rockmount defended more in the second half, Dean did not see nearly as much of the ball.

Paul Brennan was excellent in the second half. He was Rangers’ best attacker and in my opinion, shouldn’t have been substituted.

In my opinion, the player who was best on the pitch would go to Sean Murphy, the centre-half for Rangers. He never put a foot wrong, was assured on the ball all game and was a threat in the Rockmount box with his aerial presence.

A very enjoyable game of football and as the old cliche goes it was a game of two halves. Rockmount were the better side in the first, and Rangers the better in the second. It is congratulations to Rockmount as they advance to the second round at the expense of Rangers who can hold their heads high with their effort.

Adam Connor

From Gorey, Adam is a columnist with Wexford Weekly with a passion for football.

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