By Mike Fitzpatrick
Another outstanding game from the Shamrocks’ goalkeeper, Kevin McPartland, kept his side in the championship hunt in this scoreless with League Leaders Hungaria at Downing Stadium on Sunday.
McPartland made a number of fine saves from Hungaria’s Laszlo Pataki and Csaba Molnar late in the second half to keep the game scoreless and, in doing so, maintained a three-consecutive-game clean sheet streak.
Shamrocks entered the first half knowing that a tie with this impressive Hungaria side would be a considerable achievement. As the half wore on, however, it seemed that Shamrocks were the more attack-minded side, going for goal throughout the first 45 minutes. Niall Swan twice came close for the Irish side, shooting one effort wide and forcing Laszlo Aspirary into a save with a second attempt at goal midway through the first period. Johann Lannon once more proved to be a thorn in the side of the opposing defense, jinxing his way past Tomas Hadaszy only to shoot narrowly wide.
The real star of the show, however, was the Shamrocks’ veteran defender Paul Wilson. Playing an astonishing 18 years with Shamrocks, Wilson played as if it were his first game, eager to impress any potential coaches watching the match. Time and time again he outfoxed the clever attacking play of Hungarias Molnar and Attila Hangyasi, sliding in with a perfect tackle upon Hangyasi when he only had Shamrock keeper McPartland to beat.
Having won the first half possession-wise, Shamrocks began the second period attacking tenaciously yet their goalbound efforts failed to go over the line, or even cause the Hungaria defense any serious problems.
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A draw was a reasonably satisfying result for Shamrocks, as they were arguably the underdog going into the game. Hungaria, however, will be disappointed at having lost two points and, in the process, their position at the top of the table, now occupied by New York Athletic.
Another stirring display from Shamrocks skipper Robbie Walsh kept the threatening Hungaria strike force at bay throughout the second half, and a fine save by McPartland, diving low to his left prevented Pataki getting onto the scoresheet.
Shamrocks came into the game on a high, having won their previous fixture by 3 goals to nil, even though clearly missing their top scorers. Grabbing goals remains a priority for the side and if they are to launch a serious bid for the title, they must realize their ambitions and continue to get results.
Shamrocks: Kevin McPartland, Paul Wilson, Michael Bishop, Robbie Walsh, Billy Henderson, Gerard Watson, Terry Lawless, Aidan Walsh, Tim Cummings, Niall Swan, Johann Lannon. Sub: Darren Thunder.
New York Hungaria: Laszlo Aspirany, Tomas Hadaszy, Gennadiy Spits, Yan Miller, Mario Nemet, Joe Taske, Zsolt Zobeki, Attila Hangyasi, Csaba Molnar, Laszlo Pataki, Joe Tulop. Sub: John Mate.