THE omens coming into this fixture could scarcely have been worse for Rockville's U-12s.
Not only were they hosting a strong Quay Olympic team on the back of two straight defeats but the squad had been significantly weakened by the loss of several players due to a combination of injuries, participation in the Peace proms and a suspension due to a red card picked up in the aftermath of last week's defeat at home to Redeemer.
Fortunately they proved able to field a full eleven but would have no substitutes to call upon. Somehow adversity seemed to galvanise the home team however as they began the game much as they finished their last. That fixture, at home to Redeemer, had seen a much improved second half performance.
Right from kick off Rock's midfield triumvirate of Oisin McDermott, Eamon Daly and Isaac McGahon got a hold of the ball, always seeking to pick out tricky wingers Declan Curtin on the left and Sean Maguire on the right.
Quay had chances of their own and Rock were fortunate to have skipper Conor Clery alongside Liam Cafferty resolute in central defense to win the ball and carry it away time and time again.
Niall O'Reilly put in a great shift at left back. Luke Seckerson, tigerish at right back, gave no space or time at all on the left side of Quay's attack, continually frustrating their attempts to work the ball forward.
Oisin McCooey, back in goal to cover for the injured Bryan Soraghan and suspended James McNamara, seemed determined to keep a clean sheet and made several fine saves to rescue his team.
There was a let-off for the home side when on a rare sortie upfield Quay broke through on the counter and though their left winger's cross was inch perfect, the striker couldn't keep his shot on target and skied it over the bar.
This seemed to fire Rock into action as they continued to attack. Adam Stewart ploughed a lone furrow up front but used his blistering pace and close control to great effect, tracking back and winning the ball and bringing his colleagues into play. Rock pressed and pressed, forcing corner after corner. Declan's powerful shot was parried by the Quay custodian who almost spilled into Eamon's path but gathered well to deny Rock their opener.
Isaac powered into the box and seemed certain to score but again was denied by the alert Quay keeper. Sean and Declan gave the Quay defenders a torrid time on each wing.
As the game went on, the home side seemed the more likely to score but Quay had plenty of opportunities of their own and Rock were forced to defend a series of corners but held firm.
In the end, the opening goal eluded both sides and the game remained scoreless but Rock can reflect on a tenacious performance under adversity and significant improvement by several players which augurs well for the remainder of the season.