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Shamrocks gear up for Cosmo Cup tilt with Albanians

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The Shamrock Soccer Club travel to Woodbridge, N.J., on Sunday to take on The New York Albanians in what promises to be a cracking Cosmopolitan Cup Final. The Irish side gained promotion to the premiership last season and the objective was to stay up and maybe attract some new blood. The Rocks, however, surprised everybody, not least themselves, by getting within a whisker of the title and by reaching the upcoming final for the first time in their nigh on 40-year history.

In the two meetings between the teams this year, the Rocks were probably a little unlucky, the outcome being a draw home and away. In the home tie, the Shamrocks were on top for most of the game and leading 2 nil when they let it slip a little and allowed the Albanians back into it. The game ended 2-2.

The success has been more a case of players growing in maturity than new blood being introduced. After a shaky start to his Shamrock career goalkeeper, Kevin McPartland has become one of the better custodians in the league, maybe the best. The low goals-against column had a lot to do with McPartland, but he will be the first to admit that his back four of Michael Bishop, Robbie Walsh, Aiden Welsh and Paul Wilson helped out in no uncertain terms and when called upon Michael Haley and Johann Lannon filled in with aplomb.

The midfield of Darren Thunder, Billy Henderson, Terry Lawless and most often Lannon gained recognition for their tireless running and battling. The loss of Ger Watson in this department was a blow, but it was softened by the strength in reserve aspect of the organization. Mick McCarthy came in and proved himself when Lannon had to move back to left full back.

Up front, whether it was Tim Cummins and Ray Elsesser, Elsesser and Paddy Geraghty, Geraghty and Cummins, the duo were never short of dynamic and waiting in the wings John Guildea player coach, Niall Swan still a poacher supreme and Fergal Barrett, the plague of the collective defenses in the reserve division.

Even if the Shamrocks fail, they will have enjoyed a best-ever season.

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