By Mike Fitzpatrick
Rockland 2-17, Donegal 0-10
Against a disappointing Donegal side, the Rockland lads defeated their arch rivals to advance to the "A" Division football final, where they will meet Denis Twomey’s Rangers in two weeks time.
Never behind throughout the tie, Paul Rowley’s Rockland side overcame their opponents with a performance which will certainly cause a ripple of concern in the Rangers camp.
In what was a flowing example of junior football, Rockland portrayed a consistency and a determination to win which suggests that Rangers have it all to do in a couple of weeks if they are to topple Rockland from their dream of annexing the junior crown. It won’t be easy.
Opening with two points from Billy Horan and a point from Gerry O’Riordan, Rockland were pegged back by scores from Gary Dowd and Tadhg O’Donovan.
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The early toing and froing disappeared however, and Rockland commenced to amass an insurmountable lead. Another effort from O’Riordan, and two from the best player on the day, Dave Fitzgerald, gave Rockland a lead they never looked like squandering.
Some accurate free-taking from Fitzgerald and a penalty from Gerry Heavin gave Rockland a seven point lead going into the break.
Scorewise, the second half was virtually identical. Donegal equalled their five point first half tally whereas Rockland hit 1-8, a point less than they had in the first 35 minutes. Rockland introduced a number of influential substitutes in Mike Pender and Tommy Fennell. Pender was denied by Molloy in goal with one effort, and Fennell snatched a fine goal within a minute of coming on.
Raymie Kane, Anton Diver and Sean McGinlay added points for the Ulstermen’s cause. However, anytime Donegal looked to be back in the tie, Rockland surged back with accurate efforts.
Gerry Heavin, Leo Turley and Gerry O’Riordan added to Rockland’s score and the final quarter left little doubt as to who would be facing Rangers in the final.
Rockland proved themselves today that they have the potential to go all the way and unless Rangers up their level of performance the championship will go upstate
Rockland: Jimmy Dwyer, Tom O’Riordan, Ken Mortimer, Jimmy Flynn, Tom Acton, Denis McHugh, Donal Cassidy, Tom McHugh, Paddy Corcoran, Dave Fitzgerald (0-6), Billy Horan (0-2), Gerry O’Riordan (0-4), Leo Turley (0-1), Gerry Heavin (1-4), Emmet Woods. Subs: Tommy Fennell (1-0), Mike Joe Hennessy, Mike Pender, Sean Fitzpatrick, Sean Roche.
Donegal: Frank Molloy, Pat McGill, Enda Lohan, PJ Colgan, Owen Farrell, Mark McClafferty, Ray Kane (0-1), Peter McGinlay (0-1), Gary Dowd (0-2), Liam Gallagher (0-1), Sean McGinlay (0-1), Conor Ward, Anton Diver (0-1), Gary Rocks, Tadhg O’Donovan (0-2). Subs: Dermot Boylan (0-1), James Doherty.