By Jack Flynn
Rockland 0-11, Westput 0-7
If you believe in the old saying “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard,” imagine how hard it would be to tell the players without jerseys at all.
Such was the case at Gaelic Park on Sunday, as Rockland were forced to play the first half of their Junior A football match with Westput without their jerseys, which were finally donned for the second half. Regardless, Rockland jumped out to a big lead and held on for an 0-11 to 0-7 win.
“Westput and Rockland have a history of rough battles,” said Rockland’s Mike Joe Hennessey, who was one of the best players on the pitch throughout the hour. “The boys who came out gave a stellar performance.”
The match was delayed a quarter hour while Rockland waited for their jerseys to arrive. Finally, with Westput waiting and no desire to turn the match into a shirts-and-skins contest, Rockland players donned white T-shirts to distinguish themselves from their opponents.
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Whether or not the non-traditional garb had any effect on Rockland’s play is debatable, but one thing was for certain: Rockland came out of the gates on fire.
Hennessey and half forward Dave Fitzgerald each scored three points, and Rockland raced out to an 0-6 to 0-0 advantage. A Phil Connolly free late in the first half finally broke the streak and put Westput on the board.
Just before the halftime horn, a Gerry O’Riordan free hooked sweetly around and inside the upright, restoring Rockland’s 6-point advantage and making the score 0-7 to 0-1 at the break.
The second half began with a touch of showmanship, as Rockland’s Billy Horan capped off a long run by putting a ball over the bar. The play was set up by O’Riordan, who punched a ball out of midair right to Horan who ran unimpeded for about 60 yards before converting.
Westput had shown very little to this point, but finally began to play well after Horan’s point. Full forward Danny Leavy was a shining star for his side, scoring five times in workmanlike fashion.
Rockland did slow down a bit as Westput began to pick up steam, but the lead was already enough that they were never in any real danger of losing the lead. Fitzgerald scored two of Rockland’s four second-half points to help keep his team comfortably out ahead.
Greg Brennan, who was so splendid in Rockland’s bitter loss in the U-21 final to Rangers last week, played another strong match at the Junior A level in this match. Brennan’s play helped keep Westput from completing what would have been a heartbreaking comeback for Rockland to suffer through.
Rockland scorers: Fitzgerald 0-5, Hennessey 0-3, O’Hare, O’Riordan and Horan 0-1.
Westput: Leavy 0-5, McMahon and Connolly 0-1.