All County Football League Division.1
Rossa 1-11 Aldergrove 0-10
A scrambled goal by full-forward, Colm Fleming in the 30th minute of the first half swung this All County League Division 1 game in favour of Rossa and sent them to the dressing room on level terms at the end of a half which visitors, St. James’ Aldergrove controlled.
Fleming dispossessed Tomas O’Callahan as the Aldergrove defender attempted to clear his lines and broke a couple of tackles as he bore down on goal. Keeper Joseph Donnelly came off his line and spread himself to block Fleming’s initial shot but the ball rebounded of the number 14 and in the scramble that followed he forced it over the line.
Prior to this it was visitors St. James’ who had enjoyed the better of the first half exchanges, playing a very effective sweeper system and building methodically with Conor Browning and Ryan Owens dictating matters at mid-field and Gerard Mallon directing play when they moved forward.
After a slow start to the game it was the visitors who drew the first blood when Ronan Hanna pointed them ahead after eight minutes and after Rossa had wasted a couple of chances to draw level it was Fergal Burke who increased the Aldergrove lead with a great point in the 18th minute.
Donal Armstrong finally got the home side on their way when he split the posts in the 23d minute but Aldergrove continued to hold the upper hand and Fergal Burke punished another couple of indiscretions by the Rossa defence as he pointed frees in the 25th and 26th minute to move his side 0-4 to 0-1 ahead and they were full value for their lead at this stage of the game.
When the Shaw’s Road side did attack they were wayward in their shooting but Fleming’s determination was to change all that as he bundled the ball to the net as half time approached to level the contest and give his side a platform for the second half.
AHEAD ONCE MORE
Aldergrove appeared to have recovered from this setback when Burke pointed them ahead once more from a free within 30 seconds of the restart after a foul on Seamus McGarry but within a minute Rossa were back on terms when Fleming converted a close range free at the other end.
This score seemed to lift the home side as Gerard Walsh sent over an excellent point in the 4th minute to give them the lead for the first time and Sean Paul Donnelly from a 5th minute free, and another from play, increased that lead to three with six minutes gone.
It was now the city side’s turn to dictate the play as the Rossa defence got tight on their men, denying them the space they had enjoyed in the opening half and Michael Kane sent over an excellent point to increase their lead before Fergal Burke replied from another free to leave three in it once more.
Rossa had the bit firmly between their teeth however at this stage as Gerard Walsh continued to assert his influence around mid-field and points from Darren Grego and Michael Armstrong saw them move five clear at the end of the third quarter.
Aldergrove were now finding the path to goal a much more difficult one to negotiate with the final pass letting them down on several occasions but a couple of quick points from Seamus McGarry cut the deficit to three once more as they fought to salvage something from the game.
It was not to be however as Peter Murphy hit back for the home side but they then received a setback with the dismissal of a player with six minutes remaining for a second yellow card offence. Rossa failed to panic as Sean Fleming and Sean Paul Donnelly tagged on a couple of points with Aldergrove’s only response coming from a Ronan Hanna point in injury time.
A good game of football, played in bright evening sunshine and the proverbial game of two halves with Aldergrove well on top for most of the first half and the visitors might well have been further ahead before Fleming’s late goal.
After the break it was Rossa who called most of the tunes with Fleming well assisted by Gerard Walsh, Sean Paul Donnelly, Niall Crossan, Sean Finch and Michael Armstrong and they seem to be running into a bit of form as the Championship approaches.
Referee: Brendan Toland (Lamh Dearg)