GALE force conditions at Mallusk are not usually conducive to enthralling football but both teams battled hard and gave the fans plenty to enjoy.
Despite playing into the wind, Rosario started well, making a number of early incursions deep into the St Mary’s half.
Brogan Austin was again outstanding in his new central midfield role, covering, passing and anticipating with confidence.
Barry Moreland was unstoppable on the left flank and with Conall Deery, Conor Moore, and Declan Lynas hungry for goalscoring opportunities, St Mary’s soon found themselves sailing close to the wind.
They are, however, a strong, talented team and some very solid defending from the home side reminded Rosario what they were up against.
It was Brogan, however, who broke the deadlock, ably assisted by Deery, and some excellent midfield battling from Moore.
It was a well-taken goal, struck with real force, giving the St Mary’s keeper no chance whatsoever.
Stung into action, the North Belfast men went on the attack, and although Conor Lally’s legendary shot-stopping skills were not tested, a St Mary’s
set-piece was very well executed, and their deserved equaliser came from the ensuing corner.
The corner was struck superbly - low and hard, it ricocheted in off a Rosario shin.
It’s not often that the Roses’ ‘iron curtain’ is breached these days, but there was little anyone could have done to prevent this goal.
Revived by their equaliser, and hoping to still make the best of the favourable wind, St Mary’s harried and pressurised.
Again, exceptional commitment and communication in the Roses’ defence, in the form of captain Michael Kane, Darragh King, Tony Quigley, Conall O’Rawe, and Moreland, all kept in check by Lally, held the opponents at bay, and linked up well with the midfield to create several potentially lethal counter attacks.
The second half soon rewarded Rosario for their labours, and when Conor Moore was clipped inside the box, Deery wasted no time converting the penalty.
Towards the end of match, the Roses had one or two scares (all from corners and set-pieces), and it took a heroic block from King in the dying seconds to ensure that his team bagged the three points.
Nevertheless, the better team won on the day, and
the Roses remain top of the league.
U13 NIBFA Cup Round 1
ROSARIO took on Ulidia on Sunday in the NIBFA Cup and Caolan Chada was back to his best with a hat trick and Eoghan McCabe, John McGeogh and Reece Montgomery scored the other three as Rosario cruised through.
Rosario hit the woodwork twice early on with efforts from Montgomery and Chada.
McCabe and Tom Campbell pulled out good saves from Ulidia keeper Joe McKee before a well-drilled corner from Tom Campbell was tucked away by Chada.
New signing Mongomery got his name on the score sheet with a well hit shot from the edge of the box after good work down the right between Chada and Brendan Gallon.
Rosario took control of the second half when Dan Savage put McCabe away down the right, McCabe’s shot hit the post and McGeogh followed up to net Rosario’s third.
Ulidia’s attacks through Niall McNally and Connell McHugh were well dealt with through Mathew Hamilton, Fabian Palwaki, Sam O’Farrell and Dan Savage who were solid in defence. Rosario deservedly went four up when Montgomery crossed in for McCabe’s effort to come back off the post but Chada was on hand to slot home for his second of the game.
Ulidia pulled one back when Carlos passed the ball to Michael Napier, who challenged Matthew Hamilton.
Hamilton put the ball past his own ‘keeper Frances for an own goal and reduce the margin to 4-1. Rosario made it five when Hamilton’s free kick was driven home by McCabe.
The goal of the match then came when Louis Campbell won a free at the edge of the box and the well flighted free from Liam O’Keefe was headed home superbly by Chada for 6 - 1. Rosario could have increased their lead when Sean Lyttle and Jude McStay both came close.
Eamon Carvil and Liam O’Keefe along with Louis Campbell put in fine second half displays.
While Connell McHugh, Niall McNally and ‘keeper Joe McKee were Ulidia’s best players, it was Rosario’s Caolan Chada who picked up man of the match.