It’s now been 360 minutes since an on-target shot has beaten Shamrock goalkeeper Kevin McPartland, and the strength and resilience of the Rocks defense was never better illustrated than in Sunday’s hard-fought 1-0 victory over the struggling Polonia.
In an otherwise confident display, McPartland had his right post to thank on one occasion, and a couple of minor fumbles served to remind us that he only human.
The Shamrocks lay encamped in the Polonia half until they scored after 20 minutes.
Earlier, chances that fell to Tim Cummins and Johan Lannon went abegging, and this wasn’t to be a prolific Cummins day, as the luck of the bounce seemed to be against him on each occasion that he broke free.
On the 20 mark, the effervescent Lannon skipped down the left wing and whipped over a cross aimed at the head of player-coach John Guildea. Guildea flicked on to the in-running Eoin Sweeney, who dived to head past the burly Polonia ‘keeper.
At that point, it looked like the lowly Poles could be in for a whipping from the in-form Rocks. Alas though, the home side chose to sit back and let the opposition come at them.
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Having said that, though, the game could have been put to sleep had a Lannon header not struck the crossbar or if Aiden Welshes volley from the resultant corner kick been a little lower. A few minor chances again fell to Cummins, but the score remained 1-0 at the break.
It was in this second half that the referee lost control of the game, dishing out yellow cards with gay abandon in an effort to compensate for his own inadequacies. Another Shamrock was sent to the line unfairly and, down to 10 men, the Rocks endured a period of sustained pressure before the man in black decided to even things up by showing Polonia midfielder the red card, again unfairly.
The remainder of the game was tit-for-tat with the home team giving as good as they got in a tough last 20 minutes. Tim Cummins again came close when a fine piece of individual skill took him face to face with the Polonia goalie, who got his angles right and Cummins’s effort clipped the wrong side of the near post.
In the dying minutes, a Polonia corner was only half cleared and Nowak’s shot appeared to have tied things up, but his effort hit the post and the Shamrocks held on to maintain the challenge at the top. Paul Wilson and Billy Henderson stood out on the day.
The second team slipped up somewhat in a dour 0-0 affair with Polonia. Time and time again, the Rocks failed to breach the Polonia defense while, at the other end, some safe handling by Paudie Moloney and strong defense by Paul Woodley and Eugene Smyth ensured that the home side would garner at least a point from the encounter.
The third team had to travel to Connecticut at an ungodly hour of the morning to face a strong Chile team and the elements against them were too much to handle, it seems; they fell 5-1 to their lofty opposition.