A DRAW was not the result either side wanted in this game between fifth and sixth in the Meath & District League Premier Division at Sandy Lane on Friday night.
The result moved Muirhevnamor up one place into fourth ahead of Duleek with two more matches played, six points adrift of the leaders Woodview with the same games played.
Rock remain as they were - with three games in hand on Woodview which would put them level with the leaders if they won - but their quest to retain the title has seen them pick up only this point in their last two encounters. A big improvement looks needed if they are to retain their crown.
Certainly they managed that in the second half of this local derby to achieve a fair result in the end. However, it was the visitors who were much the better side in the first 45 minutes, and they should have had more to show for it than the one goal which didn't arrive until just a few minutes before the half-time whistle.
It was a well-worked move that culminated in overlapping right-back Stefan McKevitt drilling in an inch-perfect low cross that Brendan Hughes merely had to tap into the net after timing his run into the six-yard box.
The Rock equaliser by David Ward was an even better constructed goal, involving upwards of a half-dozen players as the ball was worked from one wing to the other for substitute Michael Osobe to provide a carbon copy of McKevitt's cross, this time to the back post.
Muirhevnamor controlled a large part of the first half, gaining a grip in midfield where Rock were listless. Goalkeeper John Rogers saved the home side on a number of occasions as his defence was far from secure.
However, he and his teammates could hardly believe their luck when Jimmy Cooney missed an absolute sitter. All alone, only yards out and slightly beyond a post, he headed into the side netting with only Rogers to beat.
With less of the possession Rock could have scored on a couple of occasions, with strikers Derek Delany and David Ward looking dangerous whenever the ball came their way. Delany stole in behind the visitors' defence and drew an excellent save from Michael Cooney, who also performed impressively with his aerial command of his penalty box in the second half.
Cooney's save from Ward came when getting the slightest of fingertips to a screamer of a cross-shot to divert the ball against the far post - an intervention that probably secured his team a point in the end.
The introduction of Osobe at the break and Paddy Quinn's switch into midfield was crucial in turning the balance of play, but 'Mor left winger Ger McSorley was truly electrifying and the visitors had no answer to his speed and trickery. He surged several times past a bunch of players from half-way into the opposition box, with one particularly memorable dribble where he wriggled past three or four players. On the other side, Osobe also caused his share of problems.
Paddy Quinn demonstrated Rock's intent with a testing long-range shot that Cooney saved, while Sean Conlon at the other end drew a good save from the well-positioned Rogers in the opening ten minutes of the second half.
But Rock built up momentum, and their equaliser short of the hour mark was merited.
Rock Celtic: John Rogers, Conor McDonnell, Aidan Sheeky, Paddy Reilly, David McGeough (Cormac McArdle), Ger McSorley, Mark McGeown (Michael Osobe), Kevin McArdle, Paddy Quinn, David Ward, Derek Delany (Chris Connolly).
Muirhevnamor: Michael Cooney, Stefan McKevitt, Philip Duffy, Shane O'Callaghan (Anto Reilly), Adrian Rafferty, Brian Begley, Jimmy Cooney, Thomas McShane, Chris Caulfield , Sean Conlon, Gary Clarke (Ryan Dillon), Brendan Hughes (Conor Gorman).
•Rock Celtic will hold its agm this Wednesday (December 18th) at 8.30pm in the clubhouse - all welcome.