Rock’s unbeaten season continued at Owenbeg yesterday afternoon when they inflicted a first defeat of the year on Derry champions Moneymore to book their place in the last four of the Ulster Junior championship.
The Tyrone double winners were full value for their victory with Conor McCreesh landing eleven points in a man of the match display. It was a game in which they were always the better side and, while Moneymore scored two goals, on both occasions Rock responded with unanswered points to ensure that they maintained a safe distance.
Rock were out of the blocks quickly and by the tenth minute they had four points on the board with McCreesh getting the first three before Eamon Ward found the range.
Richard Scullion opened Moneymore’s account with a neat effort from play but after hitting a couple of wides Rock moved 0-6 to 0-1 in front thanks to efforts from McCreesh and Aidan McGarrity. The St.Patricks had a couple of wides through Diarmuid Carroll before Moneymore got back into the game with a goal against the run of play five minutes before halftime.
Midfielder Jack Barton played the ball to Paudie O’Neill and the Moneymore Captain surged through on goal before being brought down by Rock keeper Niall Mullan for a penalty.
Left half back Rory Young was the player entrusted with the spot kick and he finished in style to the bottom left hand corner of the net.
It was a score that lifted the Derry champions and moments later they closed the gap further with a point from corner back Dean Kelly.
For the first time Rock were on the back foot but, in the final minutes of the half, Carroll from play and a McCreesh free left Rock 0-8 to 1-2 to the good as they went to the changing rooms.
The game was delicately poised, but Moneymore failed to trouble the umpires in the third quarter as Rock built up a match winning lead.
Carroll began it all off with a fine effort from forty metres out in the fourth minute and in the next attack substitute Enda Mallon took a pass from impressive midfielder Martin McCreesh to cut in from the right wing to register.
James and Conor McCreesh both tagged on points before the latter hit a beauty after going past a couple of challenges.
It was all Rock at this stage and they were denied a goal when Eamon Ward’s shot was saved by keeper Stephen Barker at the expense of a 45 which McCreesh expertly floated over.
Nine points separated the two sides at this stage but bock then went eleven minutes without scoring as Moneymore fought back.
A Richard Scullion free opened their second half account before Paudie O’Neill and Conan McAleese scored points from play within sixty seconds of each other.
In the 51st minute O’Neill scored the Derry champions second goal to leave only three points between the two sides.
Rock were under the cosh at that stage but that man McCreesh came to the fore again as he converted two vital frees. In injury time at the end of the game a shot from Moneymore substitute Niall Hegarty was deflected onto the post by Rock defender Mark McAleer.
Right at the end McCreesh put the icing on the cake when he got on the end of a high ball in from Carroll to punch over the bar finish the scoring.