By Jay Mwamba
On the same day that France were being crowned champions of Europe, Shamrock S.C. were making history of their own at Woodbridge, N.J., Sunday.
Shamrock became the first club ever in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League’s 77-year history to successfully defend the League Cup when they edged Koha S.C. 1-0 in a tight final. It was also Koha’s first defeat in 26 matches since they joined the CSL last year.
Chilean-born Englishman Ray Elssesser bagged the match winner for Shamrock, who beat New York Albanians on penalties at the same ground in last
Elssesser blasted the ball through a crowd of players and into the net from some 23 yards in the 60th minute, following a penetrating run by Mick McCarthy down the right flank.
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"What a goal," Shamrock player-assistant coach John Guildea gushed. "It was special and worthy of a cup final."
The strike came after Shamrock had withstood an early first-half offensive by the high scoring Koha, who won raves from their Irish opponents for their technical efficiency.
"The first 20 minutes they were all over us, [but] we weathered the storm," Guildea noted.
Shamrock began to stamp their mark on the final later in the first half and actually had a Tim Cummins goal inexplicably waved off by the referee before halftime.
Although they had their moments in front of the goalmouth, the longer that they went without scoring the tougher the situation became for Koha, who had averaged 11 goals in their last four matches before the final.
"They could have scored as well," Guildea said. "They are a very good team technically and they were better footballers than us. But we knew how to play the game better."
He confessed that Shamrock had gone into the final as underdogs, because of Koha’s vaunted scoring prowess. However, their confidence grew with every minute that Koha remained scoreless.
Said Koha manager Omer Hakramaj: "Taking nothing away from Shamrock, who are a very good side, we feIt very unlucky not to score."
He said that Koha were handicapped by the absence of their two key strikers: his injured brother Qazim, who scored 33 goals this season, and the vacationing Nikolla Gjokaj, who struck 21 times.
To reach the final, Shamrock knocked off Banatul 3-1 in the semi-finals, Fairfield/Westchester United (1-0) in the quarterfinals, and Barnstonworth Rovers (3-1) in the second round.