Rovers eventually pull clear of Reds

Leinster Senior Mills Cup
Three Rock Rovers 4 (D Walsh, J Mullins, R Canning, K Mullins) Corinthian 2 (J Roberts, S Reid)
Three Rock Rovers’ midfield eventually over-ran Corinthian to get a handle on the Leinster Senior Mills Cup for the second time in five years at Grange Road, their fourth piece of silverware already this season.

There was never any comfort about the victory, though, as the reds – in their fifth final since 2009 – continually produced big chances with Conor Quinn making perhaps the bigger saves of the two goalkeepers.

Three Rock Rovers with the Mills Cup title. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Indeed, with snow in the air and a real feel on the -3 degree mark, the Leinster Division One side led 22 minutes in via Jonathan Roberts and Stephen Reid, undoing Daragh Walsh’s mid-circle piledriver in the early minutes.

Rovers swapped the lead before half time, though, with John Mullins slotting home from mid-circle and Ross Canning potting a penalty stroke.

Kevin Mullins guided home the only goal of the second half for a degree of comfort with 24 minutes to go as Daragh Walsh, John Mullins and Jody Hosking ratcheted up the tempo.

Quinn was required to tip a Davy Howard drag-flick onto the post while Rovers had a glut of chances to make the game safer in the last 20 minutes but took no more.

The game started at a cracking tempo with Ben Murphy required to dive to clear Ross Murray’s pads inside two minutes as Rovers burst forward. Two Murray saves followed from the long corner but the latter fell to Walsh to thrash in.

Any sense of it being a handy afternoon, though, were quickly dispelled when Roberts raced through from Corinthian’s first attack down the left and fired home on the reverse for 1-1 – all within the first three minutes.

After Peter Blakeney hit the side-netting, the game settled into a pattern. Rovers ran up long phases of possession but could not pierce the Reds’ half-court lines.

On the counter, Corinthian looked hungrier and Reid snapped up their second. A cross from the left caused havoc with bodies tumbling left, right and centre, all calling for each different type of free.

Reid kept chasing the ball and found a dinked finish from the right baseline and the lead. Jonathan Roberts then went close to a third from Ian Stewart’s cracking cross with Quinn getting down brilliantly to block.

A minute later, Rovers were back level. Richard Pautz stole possession high up the field with the ball eventually slipped into John Mullins in the circle with time to pick out the bottom corner.

Harry Morris then won Rovers’ first of two strokes when he pulled back from the right end-line. He was going away from goal when his stick was checked, enough to warrant the decision from umpire Rob Abbott, with a couple of players battling to get on the end of his pass. Canning scored low.

There was still time for Jack Perdue to rattle a shot off Quinn’s pads and David Howard to hit the net from a corner but too high for a first shot on goal.

The second half saw Rovers enjoy more control over the tie and they went further clear from the move of the game. A series of passes saw Mark Samuel feed Conor Empey on the right of the circle and his ball across was lifted into the roof by Kevin Mullins.

Corinthian won their third corner which saw Quinn tip Howard’s drag onto the post and it proved the reds last major chance. James Walker had a couple of crosses not quite get the requisite touch; Murray saved a Madeley drag while Richard Pautz went closest with another deflection.

Conor Quinn makes one of a number of saves. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Madeley took over the stroke duties when Samuel was felled by a reckless diving tackle. He flashed the effort wide with seven minutes left, keeping Corinthian interested but the Rovers scramble defence meant no major jitters in the closing minutes.

Corinthian: R Murray, R Howard, R Clarke, J Roberts, D Tracey, J Greaney, A Sutton, S Reid, D Winn, J Bruton, A Blennerhassett, R McWilliams, D Howard, B Murphy, E Mackay

Three Rock Rovers: C Quinn, R Nair, P Blakeney, C Empey, J Mullins, R Canning, J Walker, L Madeley, D Walsh, K Mullins, H Morris, J Hosking, R Pautz, M Samuel, H MacMahon, B McCrea

Umpires: K Cholewa, R Abbott

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