By Jay Mwamba
Clontarf Athletic had a goal-scoring defender named Ken Duck to blame this time for their loss to New York Athletic Club in the Trans-Atlantic Cup at Travers Island last Saturday.
Duck struck twice late in the first half as NYAC, coming off a semifinal appearance in the U.S. Men’s National Amateur Cup, cruised to a 3-0 victory in Pelham, N.Y. Forward Dan Hatter netted NYAC’s third goal, shortly after the interval.
“They were far too good for us,” Mick Lawlor, Clontarf’s 49-year-old player-coach, conceded after the game. “They were better today than two years ago.”
NYAC hammered the Dublin amateur side 6-2 in the inaugural Trans-Atlantic Cup in July 1996. Clontarf had taken to the field last weekend determined to avenge that embarrassing defeat and played NYAC close for most of the opening half.
The pendulum, in what was a see-saw affair, swung NYAC’s way six minutes from time when Duck beat Clontarf goalie Philip White from close range to give the home side the lead.
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The goal sparked a NYAC offensive and three minutes later a Clontarf defender handled under pressure to give away a penalty. White, however, produced a breathtaking save from NYAC skipper Kevin McCarthy.
But White was give no chance by Duck’s header moments later (49th), off Billy Cronin’s corner kick. NYAC took a 2-0 lead into the locker room and picked up where they’d left off with a third goal, courtesy of Hatter, on resumption.
There was little drama after that as the NYAC defense, ably marshaled by Joe Holt, gave Clontarf strikers John Reynolds and James Cunningham nary a whiff of the goal area.
“They’re a superb team,” admitted Lawlor, who played in the heart of the Clontarf midfield. “They had a superb touch on the ball and were physically superior to us. We don’t mind losing to a team like that.”
NYAC coach Ronan Downs said the win was a pleasant way to rebound from their 2-0 U.S. Amateur Cup semifinal defeat by Cassal in Chicago the previous week.
“If we’d performed like this in Chicago, we’d have done better,” said the Dublin native who has molded the Cosmopolitan Soccer League side into one of the top amateur outfits in the United States.
Downs played earlier for NYAC’s “B” side that was trounced 4-2 by the Clontarf second team in the curtain raiser.
Mick Jones, Luke Campbell, Michael Grant and Fran Reynolds connected for Clontarf, while the fleet-footed Ivan Gazidis got both NYAC goals, on assists by Walter Chudowsky. The Clontarf second stringers triumphed 2-0 in 1996.
Indo vs. Echo
NYAC “B” were a player short moments before kickoff, prompting coach Downs to turn to the Echo reporter covering the match for help in making up the numbers.
Yours truly gamely obliged the home team and came up against Clontarf skipper, and Irish Independent sportswriter, Philip Quinn on several occasions. Needless to say, Quinn, a tough-as-nails defender who covered the recent World Cup finals in France from start to finish, bested his Echo rival. But he was gracious enough to give the Echo effort a 7 rating — on a scale of 1 to 10.