By Jay Mwamba
Lansdowne Bhoys laid claim to the bragging rights in the Bronx with a three-goal blitz that sunk Irish rivals St. Barnabas, 3-2, in a top-of-the-table Cosmopolitan Soccer League Metro Div. II match at SUNY-Purchase last Sunday.
The Bhoys overcame a 1-0 deficit after Ray Barrett had headed St. Barnabas in front (20th) with a 10-minute barrage that powered them to their eighth win over the season, and the best record overall in the CSL.
The Saints, who went into the match leading Metro Div. II East, dropped to 5-2-1 (win, loss, draw) after their second straight loss.
Aidan Dennis had much to rue about the result. “We were absolutely all over them,” he said. “We had 50 shots and they had three and they all went in.”
Lansdowne coach Eamon Duffy, whose men top the West (24), said it was a case of “classical finishing and taking our chances.”
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
The Bhoys wasted few opportunities indeed against the hard fighting Saints. Michael Walsh (25th), Gavin Murray (28th) and Sean Hall (35th) turned the match around before half time after Barrett’s opener.
St. Barnabas rallied in the second half and managed to pull one back through C.J. Doherty before the Bhoys defense closed shop.
“Eugene Doherty marshaled the defense well and Emelyn McAleer took care of things in goal,” Duffy noted.
Overall, the coach said, it was a good workmanlike performance against a good side. “We’ll take the bragging rights in the Bronx,” he added.
Shamrock were on the cusp of a memorable victory over New York Athletic Club at Travers Island, but were hurt by a harsh call by the referee and NYAC’s indomitable spirit in a 4-4 tie.
At full strength for the first time all season, the Rocks led 3-0 at one point, courtesy of Hughie Daly (15th), Jamie O’Driscoll (25th) and Mike Bishop, then had forward Dave Fitzgerald sent-off for dissent. “I couldn’t believe it,” coach Billy Henderson said.
NYAC, with boss Ronan Downs back from Dublin and shouting himself hoarse on the sidelines, came roaring back. Pepper Brill (40th), stretching his scoring run to six games, ex-MetroStar midfielder Brian Kelly (60th) and Gregg Smalling (70th) tied the game after incessant pressure, only to see NYAC fall behind again.
Paddy Gerathy (75th) ended the NYAC goal spree by converting a penalty awarded when a defender handled a Robbie Walsh cross.
But Downs’s men still had more fight left in them. Dominic Hardy popped up eight minutes from the end to snatch NYAC’s equalizer.
“The ref broke my heart,” Henderson lamented. “He let them back into the game. But give Athletic Club credit. They play for 90 minutes.”
Henderson gave Man of the Match honors to defender Eugene O’Driscoll, and special mention to Daly, making his season debut along with Gerathy, for causing havoc upfront.
“A thriller of a game,” summed up Downs. “I’m very proud of the guys. To be 3-0 down and then come back is a major achievement for any side.”
Fourth placed NYAC (4-0-2, 14), nevertheless, lost ground on new First Division leaders New York Albanians (5-0-3, 18) and number two Pancyprian Freedoms (5-1-2, 17) who both won. Shamrock (2-2-4, 10) remain sixth.
Ray Elssesser and Tom Whitty tallied for the Shamrock reserves, who also finished with 10 men in a 3-2 loss to the NYAC second team. John Guildea was dismissed for dissent as well.
In Metro Div. I, Shamrock’s third team battled to a goalless tie with Barnstonworth Rovers.
Astoria Gaels (5-1-1, 16) cut idle Roosevelt Island Internationals’ lead at the top of Metro Div. I to two points with a 3-1 win over Manhattan Celtic at Wards Island.
Seamus O’Neil got bottom side Celtic (0-5-1, 1) off to a false start, chipping the goalie in the 10th minute to draw first blood.
Gaels hit back through a Derek McKenna free-kick (35th) that Celtic’s John Marron dismissed thus, “the wind caught it. Lucky goal.”
Gerry O’Brien finished off a rebound on the hour to make it 2-1, leaving Man of the Match P.J. Burke to seal it (65th) from a corner.
“A very good performance,” Gaels manager Dave Brown remarked, while offering kudos to skipper Joe Butler and Niall Sugrue.
“Tight game,” observed Marron. “Omar Toure missed a few chances, [midfielder] Ian Woodcock had a good game for us, and Dave Noonan, our center-half, was outstanding.”
Also at Wards Island, Brendan Watkins had a goal for ASA McCarthy in a 4-1 pasting by New York Fury.
In keeping with the afternoon’s theme of dramatic fight-backs, struggling Over-30 side GH Metros, with boss Rory Finn committed elsewhere, struck twice in the last three minutes to tie NYAC’s veterans 3-3 at Wards Island.
NYAC led 3-0 at one time with Ivan Gazidis, the Major League Soccer executive in charge of procuring players, showing what standards he adheres to by netting a hat trick.
Mike Fitzgerald’s Manhattan Kickers moved into sole possession of first place in Div. II West (7-1, 21) after edging New York Wanderers 2-1 at Commodore Barry Field.
Dave Kennedy (10th) and Man of the Match Norman Pile (15th) connected.
“It looked like we were on a roll,” said coach Fitzgerald, who shared goalkeeping duties on the day with Chris Schilling.
Wanderers, however, remained resolute and got on back through Michael in the second half. The reserves drew 0-0.
East leaders Ripensia Romania (7-0, 21) did Kickers a huge favor by dispatching Jersey City FC 1-0 at Grover Cleveland, a result that left Jersey three points behind Kickers.
Player-coach Calim Pascu (17th) scored for a gutsy Ripensia outfit that had top scorer Dan Micu ejected after only five minutes.
“We were on top from the beginning to the end,” said Ripensia chief Anghel Popa, who also vented against the officiating.
Jersey’s reserves were routed 7-2.
Tony Kawteri, Rich Enticott, Yann Varin and Mo Alkandar (two) were on target as Central Park Rangers (5-1-2, 17) held off FC Japan 5-4 at Red Hook to stay four points behind Ripensia.
Rangers’ reserves were hammered 8-4.
CD Iberia’s Jose SanMartin (20th), Diego Monteagudo (32nd), and Daniel Travers starred in their side’s 5-3 loss to Albanians at Bryant High School.
Iberia, whose reserves were beaten 2-1, slipped to three points behind Shamrock in seventh place, whilst Albanians moved into first place.
Decu Costea had both goals for Pancyprians in a 2-0 decision over Polonia. The latter’s reserves won 2-0.
And at Roosevelt Island, Marvin Jones’ 85th minute free kick denied third from bottom Ridgewood Romac (1-5-2, 5) full points in a 1-1 stalemate with Barnstonworth Rovers.
Ridgewood had led 1-0 from the 30th minute on Dan Ciabuca’s effort.
“They were darn lucky. We should have won four or five zero,” said Ridgewood’s Yani Anton Enache.
Rovers took the reserve fixture 5-2.
Former First Division leaders Koha advanced to the regional final of the U.S. Men’s National Amateur Cup with a 3-2 win over Greek-American/Atlas at Flushing High School.
Fikret Celaj (30th), Fadil Gilaj (65th) and Herolind Hajdari (74th) set up a date with Athletic Club in the regional final.