LEAGUE Leaders New Generation suffered their first defeat of the season away to an ever improving Rock Celtic side at the weekend. On a beautiful morning in Blackrock the conditions were perfect for football with both sides really up for the game.
New Generation were looking to extend their lead at the top of the table, with the seasider's needing maximum points to stay in the title race. With five wins and a draw under their belt since January Rock have been on a great run, although the away side will be disappointed not to have earned at least a point in a very entertaining game.
New Generation dominated proceedings throughout the first half and went 1-0 up after only five minutes. A long ball caught the Rock defenders off guard and while 'keeper Jack Donohoe managed to divert the ball away from Jesse Nwabueze bearing down on goal he could do nothing about the follow up shot from Ebuka Kwelele.
Minutes later New Generation rattled the Rock crossbar with a great long range effort.
The first half saw some good exchanges involving Declan Curtain and Josh Hanna however Rock's only real goal scoring opportunity came when Edward Otesanya's goal bound shot was deflected wide. New Generation continued to pile on the pressure and Rock had to rely on a wonderful save from Donohoe and some good defensive work by Adam Gartlan to stay just the one goal behind at the half time interval.
The Rock coaches responded by reshuffling their deck of players with Donal Leavy and Josh Hanna resuming their midfield partnership alongside Declan Curtain and Conall McCaul dropping back to central defence alongside substitute Conor Casey.
The impact was immediate with Rock's midfield trio combining well right from the kick off with some nice football. Not to be outdone New Generation's Nwabueze then caused mayhem for the Rock defence with a great individual run and was very unfortunate to see his shot hit the post and rebound into the arms of Rock's second half keeper Nial McQuillan.
Moments later a well struck shot from Kwelele also rattled the Rock post. The Rock lads then turned the tables with some great play at times. Their first goal came midway through the second half when Hanna split the New Generation defence with an exquisite pass into the path of Declan Curtain whose first time strike gave the keeper no chance.
Shortly afterwards central defender Conall McCaul used his height well to head home a well delivered corner from Curtain to put Rock 2-1 up.
New Generation had a number of chances to draw level with some great runs from Kwelele and Nwabeze in particular and a header just over the bar. Rock's third goal came through the grit and determination of Donal Leavy winning a 50:50 ball in midfield, he went on a powerful run before passing out wide. A well delivered cross from Curtain into the danger area was met by Otesanya who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the New Generation net.
Rock Celtic: Jack Donohoe, Neil McQuillan, Adam Gartlan, Conor Casey, Conall McCaul, Josh Hanna, Donal Leavy, Declan Curtain, Edward Otesanya, Conor McVerry, Patrick Mullen