It was bottom versus top when the Shamrock Thirds took on the high-flying Astoria Gaels (27 points), who took over the Third Division East leadership from Chile F.C.
Astoria, riding a three game winning streak since the winter break, came out with all cylinders pumping. Kevin Nagle and John Beirne were strong at midfield to start, although Beirne received a yellow card for his efforts after five minutes. Derek McKenna and George Doherty have jelled perfectly up front and they brought out the best in Shamrocks keeper Andy Marcoons, who, with help from Terry Lawless and Roddy Cleeland, did much to thwart thwart the Gaels’ attack.
Macoons’ clearances were gigantic for Shamrocks, but Mark Bourke at the back for the Gaels time and again had strong clearances.
After 20 minutes Derek McKenna produced a goal of beauty to open the scoring. Mark O’Donnell took a throw on the left to Nagle, who fed McKenna, who did a 360 and buried it. Terry Horan’s defense then clamped down for the Shamrocks, and after hard work on the right won a free, but Eugene Kyne covered what was their best chance of the half.
The second half opened with Nestor Allen coming into things for the Gaels, and when Damian Dowd was introduced, the Gaels were running at the Rocks again. A couple of corners went wide while at the other end Shamrocks were building. Shamrocks were down to 10 men after Pat Mulrey was fouled and then the pressure became too much. A throw ball from Dowd found Nagle, and his cross was pushed home by John Beirne. Then George Doherty scored his sixth of the season to complete the scoring.
Outstanding for the Gaels were Mark Bourke and Joe Harris at the back and John Beirne in the center. Shamrocks were well served by Bart O’Rourke, Dave Kennedy, Niall Carolan and Willie Murphy.
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“A solid performance all around by the lads,” Gaels manager Jimmy Ralph observed, giving a special mention to central defender-cum-coach Mark Bourke for his play. “Our rivalry with Shamrock is intense.”
The Gaels are off next week while their Gaelic team go to Washington for a 7-a-side tournament. They return to action on May 2 against Fernenbache.