Category: Archive

Rocks have plenty in reserve

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

These days, however, the Sunnyside-based organization trots out four teams each weekend when the Cosmopolitan Soccer League is in season.
Aside from Billy Henderson’s title-chasing “A” team, there’s the reserve side that’s locked in a championship battle of its own with New York Athletic Club.
The Shamrock thirds, meanwhile, are languishing in the Metro Div. I cellar, reeling from the loss of top players to the hitherto booming Celtic Tiger, with no reinforcements in sight as most of the aging first team players opt to wind down their careers in the newly formed Over-30 squad.

Coached by P.J. Doherty and Terry Lawless, the undefeated reserves began the winter hiatus chasing the double. They were 4 points off the pace (5-0-4, 19 points) in the title race with leaders NYAC (7-0-2, 23), and are in the semis of the State Cup with a mouth-watering final against the Irish Rovers in the offing.
“Needless to say the game against the Rovers would be a walk in the park. I can’t see them causing us any problems,” said midfielder Niall Swan, tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Key players for the reserves include strikers Mark Dillon and Johnny Walsh, midfielder Mark Behan, captain and center half Aidan Walsh, sweeper Cosmo Creaney and hot-shot Tom Whitty, the former first team coach and ace.
Like their senior squad, Swan and Co. play a fast-flowing game that utilizes the break.

The irony is that while Swan believes the Shamrock reserves’ assimilation of several players from the defunct St. Barnabas has given them more options, an exodus of talent has severely hobbled the Shamrock Metro side.
One victory, eight losses and two draws in 11 matches at the foot of the table summed up the Metro side’s woes at the halfway mark.
“We’ve lost three to four players who returned to Ireland at the end of last year and we’re going to lose two more,” lamented Bart O’Rourke. “We’re losing some of the best.”
Joining the trek home before the end of the season is midfielder Andreas Kallika, whom O’Rourke rates as the team’s best player.
It doesn’t help that many graying first-team members are bypassing the thirds to join Guildea and his veteran brigade in the CSL’s Over-30 division.
And nor is the slowdown in the pipeline of young immigrants from Ireland helping matters.
“We’re not seeing a lot of players coming over,” O’Rourke, a Dubliner who has spent seven years with Shamrock, said. “We certainly have enough players, but overall, the strength of our squad has dropped.”

The Shamrock veterans’ rocky debut in the Over-30 division in the fall can be put down to growing pains.
“It’s our first season and we’re getting 14 to 15 players each week,” Guildea said. “I imagine we’ll be more competitive next season.”
Guildea also points out that some of the team lacked First Division experience while most of the players in the Over-30 have played in the top flight.
Guildea himself was a player-coach with the first team for eight years.
Other notables in the Over-30s are midfielders Mick Haley and Dennis Boyle, both 20-year veterans of Shamrock soccer who started with the Rocks’ schoolboy team, and center-half Paul Woodley, with 16 years’ service to the club.

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