By Jay Mwamba
In a probable case of saving their best for last, Shamrock pulled off a major upset last Sunday by stunning six-time Cosmopolitan Soccer League champions New York Athletic Club 4-2 at Msgr. McClancy High School in Queens.
It was the Rocks’ third straight league victory in as many weeks and one that moved the club into fourth position (7-3-6, 27 points) in the First Division.
“Great performance. Excellent performance,” coach Billy Henderson gushed.
“Probably our best performance of the season.”
Shamrock used speed, some flawless passing, and great team effort to eclipse one of the top amateur sides in the country in a fast-paced affair.
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After absorbing some early NYAC pressure, Shamrock drew first blood in the 10th minute when Darren Moen was pulled down in the box. Paddy Gerathy slammed the ensuing penalty home.
Hofstra University undergrad Hughie Daley made it 2-0 in the 25th minute following a brilliant build up started by Man of the Match Mick Hennessy, who worked the ball up on the right side from defense. Daley finished off the move by beating two defenders and scoring.
Gerathy then gave Shamrock a 3-0 half time lead by rounding NYAC’s stand-in goalie Lance Klima, an infield reserve player, and burying a terrific shot into the net.
“We were missing some players because of GAA [commitments], but everyone that was there stepped up,” Henderson summed up the collective effort.
NYAC, who were also missing players, received a belated boost toward the end of the first half with the arrival of midfield general Gregg Smalling.
The outgoing champions went on the offensive on resumption and were quickly rewarded with a penalty in the 55th minute after a challenge by Mike Bishop. John McCallion converted.
“They put us under pressure in the second half, but every time we went forward we looked like we were going to score,” Henderson said, while also noting Johan Lannon’s enormous impact in midfield for the Rocks.
Any prospects of a dramatic NYAC comeback were shattered in the 70th minute when Moen contacted to make it 4-1, a scoreline later reduced to 4-2 by Khouri Mullins’s late strike for the unrelenting visitors.
Henderson later put Shamrock’s achievement in perspective. “I played in two League Cup finals but this win over Athletic Club is probably more important,” he said.
Ronan Downs, the Dubliner who has led NYAC to six of the last seven CSL titles, tipped his hat to the Rocks.
“It was a good team that we were beaten by so there’s no shame. They should be contenders next year.”
Third-placed NYAC (8-3-5, 29), who officially ceded the title to New York
Albanians at the weekend, lost for only the third time this season.
In the reserve match, Ari had both Shamrock goals in a 6-2 shellacking by
Astoria Gaels pulled no punches in a 5-1 rout of last placed Manhattan Celtic at McCarran Park that brought them to within two points of Metro Div. I leaders Roosevelt Island International.
Hat-trick hero Donal Walsh starred for Gaels (9-1-4, 31), who were shorthanded at kick-off and had to suit up manager David Browne.
The hitherto retired Browne provided instant offense, flicking on a corner for Walsh to head home (5th). Walsh’s other strikes came in the second half (65th, 72nd), courtesy of assists by Nestor Allen and Eugene Kyne, respectively.
The other Gaels scorers were Brendan O’Reilly, who fired in a long-range effort from 40 yards (25th), and PJ Burke (50th).
It wasn’t all one-way traffic, however. Goalie Timmy Lynch was forced to pull off at least four superb saves to thwart Celtic.
Lynch, nonetheless, was well beaten by John Marron’s shot during a goalmouth scramble in the 68th minute that provided a deserved face-saver for the Celts.
Allen, meanwhile, received Man of the Match honors from Browne for his huge
effort. “He was a real handful upfront,” remarked Brown.
Winning the Metro Div. I title would earn Gaels, who face Shamrock’s third team this weekend, promotion to the Second Division.
Shamrock were left battling relegation to Metro Div. II following a 2-1 loss to Central Park Rangers at McCarran Park.
Dave Lovercheck (18th) and Scott Brindley (87th) struck for Rangers (3-6-6,15), who moved a point ahead of Shamrock (4-7-2, 14), two places from the bottom.
Also at McCarran Park, Metro Div. I leaders Roosevelt Island (10-1-3, 32) drew 2-2 with Krimean Turkish.
The Turks led twice through Moroccan ace Youssef Baidane (20th) and Cem Sahin (65th), only to be pegged back both times. Dawda Jobarteh (60th) and Marco Depero (75th) replied for Roosevelt.
Veteran Paddy O’Sullivan struck three times to lead understrength Brooklyn Celtic to a 4-0 win over Guyana Veterans “B” in an Over-30 fixture at Wards Island.
O’Sullivan, who was one of only seven Celtic players on the field at kick-off, was on target in the 10th, 56th and 70th minutes. Chris Tolken (49th) had the other goal.
Celtic (11-2-2, 35) cut Pele Masters’ edge at the top of the East to one point after the Guyanese club drew 0-0 with SC Eintracht.
GH Metros also pulled off a major feat, pipping Brasil 2-1at Wards Island with only nine men.
Guyla Hegyi’s header, from a Clerio Braga cross, and Steve Bodden, who was assisted by Helmuc Koffer, tallied.
“We played better with nine men,” quipped Metros coach Rory Finn, whose team has struggled of late with 11 players.