Rovers’ counter strikes add to season’s riches

Mills Cup final
UCD 2 (N Burns 2) Three Rock Rovers 4 (Peter Blakeney 2, Jonny Bruton, Joe Brennan)

Three Rock Rovers landed their second cup title of a highly productive season as their counter-attacking pace paved the way for a 4-2 victory at Grange Road, winning the Mills Cup for the first time since 1997.

UCD, going in search of their first senior title, probably held the higher volume of territory and possession but were stung by Rovers’ trademark swift counter-attacks that resulted in three of their goals.

The Three Rock Rovers side that won the Mills Cup for the first time in 17 years Pic: Adrian Boehm

The Three Rock Rovers side that won the Mills Cup for the first time in 17 years Pic: Adrian Boehm

Prior to them, Peter Blakeney had opened the scoring from his second drag-flick of the day. The first, on the rebound, had been brilliantly repelled by Shane O’Donoghue but the striker picked his spot low down the middle for a 12th minute lead.

Blakeney then tipped in a stunning second following an 80m counter-attack move. It originated with Mitch Darling working the ball forward to Jonny McCormack on halfway who fed Jody Hosking. His first time ball down the left channel opened the door for Fred Morris whose backhand cross got a slight touch at the back post by Blakeney.

Nick Burns got one back within a minute courtesy of an excellent advantage from umpire Andrew Groves. A clearance off Stephen West’s pads clipped a foot but, while some called for a corner, O’Donoghue whacked a bullet shot back into West’s midriff from where Burns pounced on the rebound, thrashing home from close range.

It ended the half at 2-1 before the game was pretty much killed off in the 15 minutes after the break. At lightning pace, Darling played in Michael Maguire down the right wing and he got around the back of Conor Quinn before delivering the ball on a plate for Jonny Bruton to finish off.

Joe Brennan made it 4-1 from the penalty spot as Blakeney won a foot-race to a through ball ahead of Quinn and was felled in the process. UCD gave the last quarter a great rattle but they could not find the target with a couple of great chances before Burns got a consolation with four minutes left. It was well-taken, punching the ball home whilst running away goal.

Rovers were comfortable victors, though, adding to the Irish Senior Cup title they won in February.

UCD: C Quinn, R Canning, B Dobson, N Burns, C Motyer, R Nair, S O’Donoghue, J Duncan, P Byrne, K Shimmins, P Brown
Subs: J Willoughby, L Chadwick, D Watkins, S Butler, G Prendergast

Three Rock Rovers: S West, L Madeley, P McConnell, J Brennan, A Bothwell, M Maguire, M Darling, A White, P Blakeney, J Bruton, J Hosking
Subs: H Morris, F Morris, G Ringwood, D Walsh, J McCormack

Umpires: Andrew Groves, Neil Mackay

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