Astoria Gaels brought their indoor tournament to a conclusion last week on a night of brilliant soccer and nailbiting finishes. The drama that unfolded was not for the fainthearted, as the final and a semifinal were decided on penalties and the other semifinal being a high-scoring affair.
After all that, the unlikeliest squad of all stood tall as champions. The No. 4 seed, Eugene Kyne’s team of Brendan Donoghue, Kevin Nagle, Dave Clare, Ger Carty, Damian Dowd and Kyne, after finishing bottom of the league clicked and came through in the knockout affair.
The first semi was Kyne’s against Derek McKenna’s squad, a pulsating game that turned into a defensive battle. McKenna’s team were top scorers in the league, and when Rob Winegar opened the scoring with his seventh of the tourney, they looked set, but Kevin Nagle was outstanding, and, with Dave Clear off the bench hustling left and right, they equalized and then took the lead with two goals by Nagle. Lloyd Canning pulled McKennas team back and it was 2-2.
There it stayed through four minutes of sudden death and it was down to penalties to decide who would go forward to the final. The best of 3 was the rule. Kyne’s squad won 2-1 on a beauty by Dowd to advance to the final.
The second semi ended in a 5-3 win for Donal Walsh’s team over Jimmy Ralph’s. This one was decided by clinical finishing by Nestor Allen for Walsh, Allen helped himself to a hat trick from all angles. Mark Kelly and the big Austrian Werner Lederer pulled two back for Ralphs but when John Beirne scored while Kelly was in the sin-bin Walsh’s squad were through to the final.
So it was Kyne vs. Walsh for the trophy, bragging rights and the new club bags. This one started at helter speed and Joe Harris settled Walsh down with the opening goal from 12 yards out. But Ger Carty with a beauty tied it up at the half. Donoghue got number two for Kyne to start the second half after great work by Dowd. But that man Nestor Allen with his ninth goal of the tournament tied it to send it to penalties. Kyne with some luck kept Walsh’s squad scoreless from 3 and Donoghue beat Niall Sugrue to win it for Kyne’s squad.
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The tournament’s top scorer was Nestor Allen with 9, while the all star team might have been Derek McKenna’s almost impossible to beat, Mark Kelly outstanding control, 6 goals and great stamina, Nestor Allen 9 goals and countless assists to teammates, plus Brendan Donoghue 6 goals and a winners medal going home.