Three Rock Rovers stay firmly in driving seat

 

IN wiping out the previous week's Mills Cup defeat by YMCA in Saturday's league game at Ballinteer, Three Rock Rovers looked assertive enough to become Leinster's challengers for the all-Ireland championship title this season and perhaps go on for a taste of European fare next year.

Having drawn with, and beaten, Avoca, it seems that the lead the undefeated Rovers hold can be threatened only in the away matches against Pembroke Wanderers and Glenanne, and even if Rovers had bad results here they would still have a cushion to drop a point or two. Furthermore, one does not expect them to fail in their excursions outside the Pale this time. And if Avoca were to lose to Pembroke next weekend, it would be a case of Three Rock cantering home.

Rovers never gave YMCA a chance to upset them for a second time. Indeed, Liam Canning and Robin Madeley were masterful. Canning, averaging two goals a game, lashed a shot out of Greg Finn's reach in each half, while a deflected drive by Madeley made it 2-0 at the interval. YM showed some force in the second half exemplified by Keith Lemon in his sorties from the back.

Pembroke, now looking for the right rhythm to enjoy their trip to Prague in May, moved impressively - especially through Devin Donnelly - in the opening period against Corinthians at Whitechurch Park, but the only breakthrough came from Francis de Rosa following a short corner.

Turlough O Siochain, making his Pembroke debut, found himself allotted a testing centre-back role in marking Corinthians' Tasmanian striker Colin Stewart and if it wasn't for a sharp move off his line by Nigel Henderson, Stewart would have plundered an equaliser in the closing exchanges.

Stewart also hustled Cork C of I's more fluent looking second XI when he was shrewdly introduced by Corinthians Il in the Irish Junior Cup tie later in the day. Corinthians, having edged out the RUC last month, went on to reach the semi-finals when Guy Banton tucked away a goal in the second half after Stephen Griffiths, notably, had defied C of I at the other end.

Surprisingly. Monkstown II went under, 2-1, to Annadale III, who, in the penultimate stages, join Corinthians II, Pembroke Il and the formidable Banbridge side which includes such juniors as Mark Sinnamon, Norman McGladdery and Colin Allister.