The annual pre-season friendly game between the two Sunnyside soccer clubs, the Shamrocks and the Rovers, took place at the Levitt’s Field on Sunday last.
The early kick-off time seemed not to suit some of the Shamrocks and they fell behind after three minutes, mainly due to the fact that they had to hand the number one jersey to striker Niall Swan.
Rovers goal came after a long clearance was flicked on by a header from Dave Quigley, and Jake Nicholls nipped between two defenders before slotting past the confused Swan.
The Rovers had much the better of the first period, experience being the main factor as Joe Behan, Mark Hopper, Alan Kelly and Quigley led the younger Rocks on a merry dance. They considered themselves fortunate to remain but a goal down at the break.
The picture was different in the second half. The arrival of the Shamrocks goalkeeper Kevin McPartland, coupled with the introduction of new signings Mike Bishop and Ger Watson, swung the pendulum in the Shamrock’s favor. Superior fitness helped also, as the Rocks camped in the Rovers half of the field for much of the second 45 minutes.
McPartland had to make one save from a Mark Hopper free kick, but apart from that he might just as well have stayed in bed. Ger Watson wreaked havoc down the right hand side and the tireless running of Ray Elsesser and Darren Thunder kept the Rovers defense extremely busy. An excellent defense it is though, and they hung tough until the end to ensure that the Nicholls goal would win the day. Man of the match was the veteran Shamrock Paul Wilson. Final score: Rovers 1, Shamrocks 0.
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Before the match, a minute’s silence was observed as a mark of respect for the victims of the Omagh bombing.