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The Manhattan Gaels players pictured before their win over Rockland at Gaelic Park on Sunday. Photo by: Neem R Parekh

Manhattan Gaels claim victory over Rockland in their first ever challenge

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The Manhattan Gaels players pictured before their win over Rockland at Gaelic Park on Sunday. Photo by: Neem R Parekh

In the first game in their history, Manhattan Gaels secured their first win in a very entertaining junior football contest on Sunday.

With a panel of 25 players on hand they used a dominating performance from their half back line that was brilliant on the offensive and gave little away in the other direction.

Three first half goals kept Rockland in the contest and actually had them ahead at the break. The winners did just enough in the second half to secure the points, with Damian McCaughey getting the all-important goal.

Goals were the theme in the first 15 minutes for Rockland as they hit the net three times in that period to forge a 3-1 to 0-2 advantage.  The sides swapped points before Danny McGrory got to the rebound when Luke Keogh made a great stop for the first goal.

McGrory had an individual goal to follow before Nick Mangan had number three.  All was not lost, however, for Manhattan as the half back line of Ryan Canavan, Niall Brennan and David Varley were doing fantastic work particularly coming forward with the ball, always picking the right option.

They had four of the next five points, with Corcoran and McCaughey scoring in the space of a minute to narrow the gap to 3-2 to 0-6.

They continued their resurgence with a further trifecta before the break with John Crowe grabbing a brace, the second of which was a towering effort. They were on the crest of a wave as they sat down for the break back within two.

Manhattan were level within four minutes of the second half, with Varley and Neven Higgins the scorers. Varley was continuing to be a curse for Rockland to contain.

Shane Hanley did have a point in reply, but then Conor Hickey had the sides level again. There was a long scoreless period with both sides guilty of final pass blues, but the Manhattan Gaels were dominating with Hickey, Varley and McCaughey winning their sectors.

Rockland was creating some chances, but invariably the last pass was intercepted and cleared.

They finally squeaked to the front again when Shane Hanley tapped a free over after Traynor was fouled to give his side a slim lead.

Manhattan was not finished. They created three further clear cut chances, with McCaughey clinically finishing one low to the net beyond the outstretched finger tips of Chris Clarke. Eric Corcoran also had a thunderbolt come crashing back of the bar.

John Riordan, the Manhattan Gaels manager, will be looking forward to the season after this very impressive start. Luke Keogh made a very good stop to open the game. Also good was the half back line of Conor Hickey, Damian McCaughey, John Crowe and Pat Egan, who did a lot of positive things with the ball when in possession.

For Rockland, Chris Clarke caught quite a few high balls and did nothing wrong. Joe Joyce was very active and showed some very good touches. Shane Hanley battled hard, and Dan McGrory also showed flashes. 

Rockland: 1 Chris Clarke, 2 Logan McIntire, 3 Mark Fitzgerald, 4 Joe Joyce, 5 Paraic Gargan, 6 Kieran Friel, 7 Tim Furlong, 8 Nick Mangan (1-0), 9 Brian McKiernan, 10 Shane Hanley (0-4), 11 Aiden Weir (1-0), 12 Danny McGrory (1-0), 13 Brian Trainor, 14 Ronan Curry, 15 Eoin O’Brian. Subs: James Stephens, Rob Gulla. 

Manhattan Gaels: 1 Luke Keogh, 2 James Boland, 3 Leo Quigley, 4 Joe O’Connor, 5 Ryan Canavan, 6 Niall Brennan (0-3), 7 David Varley (0-1), 8 Conor Hickey (0-2), 9 Damien McCaughey (1-2), 10 Brian McErlean, 11 John Crowe (0-2), 12 Eric Corcoran (0-1), 13 Neven Higgins (0-1), 14 Pat Egan, 15 Keith Pyke. Subs: Brian Whelan, Kevin Lamont, Mick McRoney, Kevin O’Brian, Sean Harrington.

Man of the match: Niall Brennan (Manhattan).
Referee: Lawrence McGrath (Donegal).

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