Tony O’Donnell’s hat trick rescued the Rovers, who staged an incredible recovery on Sunday to win an exciting end-to-end contest against Polonez, 4-2.
Twice in the opening half-hour, Polonez took advantage of poor defending to jump into a two-goal lead, but the Rovers showed real grit and determination to haul themselves back into the game. On 35 minutes, Dave Quigley released Tony O’Donnell, who carried the ball into the area before lashing it onto the roof of the net. A subdued Rovers crowd suddenly came to life and cheered on the home side. They were not let down as right on half-time Brian Monahan skipped past two defenders and pulled the ball back for O’Donnell to smash home the equalizer, making it 2-2 at the break.
The loss of Quigley and Gibson at half time didn’t stop the Rovers sending men forward at every occasion. Supersub Seth Morrisson put the Rovers ahead with perhaps the goal of the season, beating four defenders before unleashing a rocket from 25 yards that the Polonez goalkeeper must still be having nightmares about. Up by 3-2, the Rovers allowed Polonez to come back into the game, and it took several outstanding saves from Damien Doherty to maintain the lead. One save from a free kick was literally world-class. Doherty inspired the Rovers and Hopper fed O’Donnell to complete his hat-trick in the last minute. After the final whistle, coach Niall Archbold praised his team’s "unbelievable character."
Rovers Reserves 2, Polonez 0
The Reserves are looking to complete a hat trick of league championships and won this game with some powerful, pacy football. Paul McGlynn set up Anthony Moran for the first goal, and with Kevin Kenny and Collum Sanders rampant on the wings a high score seemed inevitable. However, Collum Sanders and the aging Paul Keogh squandered several opportunities and it took a great save from Mick Carby to preserve the lead. But with five minutes left Nick Sebastian set up McGlynn who scored with a left foot shot.
Rovers Over 30s 2, Olympiakos 1
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The Rovers Over 30s deservedly won this game after playing some great football early on. On 20 minutes Alan Monahan beat the offside trap and applied a cool finish, but it took until the 75th minute before Gerry Carroll exchanged passes with Des McLoughlin to slam home number two. Kieron Branagan made some good saves before Olympiakos pulled one back late on. Joe McGreevy and Des Dylan were outstanding though and the Rovers held on to win three vital points.
The Shamrocks took on Polonia on Sunday on a Maurice Park pitch that resembled O’Connell Bridge in that it was as broad as it was long. The pitch measured at 118 yards long by 111 yards wide. The large playing area sparked the following comment from the Shamrock sideline: "The last time I saw a pitch that size the players were on horseback."
The Reserve team began almost an hour late on the same Maurice Park. Polonia started well, but when the Rocks found their feet, they began to take over. It was against the run of play when they went a goal behind. Shortly afterward, Austin Welsh retaliated to his being stamped on viciously by a Polonia midfielder, and the referee saw it fit to reduce the Shamrocks to 10 men. So it was another backs-to-the-wall situation and the lads responded with their usual cut and thrust. They dominated for much of the rest of the game but had to wait until the last minute for their much merited equalizer. Seamus Pilkington scoring on his debut.
Polonia came out with all guns blazing against an unsuspecting Shamrock first team and their early pressure was rewarded when a deflected free kick was poked home by Lato. The free kick having been awarded for a hand-ball by Darren Thunder, who, in fairness, acknowledged his error immediately and made up for it afterward with a gritty display. The Shamrocks were slightly fortunate to get back into it via a Paul Wilson penalty, slotted home with his usual aplomb. The sides were level at the break.
The Shamrocks came more into it in the second half and began to dominate when the Poles were reduced to 10 men, Szarmac being sent to the line for what seemed to be a vicious tackle on the far side of the pitch. Difficult to see though, from 110 yards in the rapidly diminishing light of day. The lack of a telling final pass came back to haunt the Rocks once again. Ger Watson, who posed major problems for the opposition all day, elected to try to beat the Polish sweeper when a shot or pass might have been the better option. Ray Elsesser shot from a narrow angle when a dragback to the waiting John Guildea might have been wiser. The game ended 1-1 and with two draws from two games the Shamrocks must be thinking that it could so easily be six points on the board instead of two. Nice to see two of the older Rocks in attendance, Billy Nolan and Tony Freeman seemed to enjoy Sunday’s games.
The third team boast the only 100 percent record in the club and they stay on top courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Fenerbahce. The usual two from Niall Carolan and one from Declan O’Boyle did the trick and no Shamrock team has suffered defeat thus far this season.
St. Barnabas 2, Gjoa 2
An understrength St. Barnabas team took to the field against Gjoa in Brooklyn on Sunday. The final 2-2 scoreline did not look likely with 20 minutes remaining in the game as St. Barnabas trailed 2-0. Gjoa seemed to have the game won with well-worked goals either side of half time until Jim Keady sparked to life a fading Barnabas effort with a fine volleyed goal with 20 remaining. Five minutes later Gjoa missed a penalty and the insurance goal they needed. In the 87th minute Mike Hilton beat two Gjoa defenders before calmly slotting the ball into the net from eight yards out to tie the game.
Perhaps fortunately St. Barnabas collected a share of the spoils, but must be credited for battling on when the game looked to have fallen beyond their grasp. Defenders, Denis McGowan, George Jokai, Anto McKeon and Paul Edwards all played well.
Gjoa Reserves 3, Barnabas 0
In the reserve game, St. Barnabas were soundly beaten 3-0 by Gjoa. The opening goal came after just five minutes and Gjoa added a second just before halftime. St. Barnabas did miss some fine opportunities to get back into the game, but these misses coupled with some very questionable refereeing decisions gave St. Barnabas little to cheer on the day. Gjoa got their third goal from a fine free kick just before the end. Best for Barnabas were Brian Conway and Gerry Murphy
Clarkstown 5, Barnabas Thirds 0
St. Barnabas third team tumbled to a 5-0 defeat away to Clarkstown on Sunday. The under-strength saints had to contend with a much sharper Clarkstown side under humid and strength draining conditions. Barnabas held their own for the first 20 minutes as Kieran Forkin and Tadgh O’Callaghan both came close to giving them the lead. However, Barnabas found themselves down 2-0 at the break.
The second half started off well for the Saints as Kevin Rice darted through three players only to be denied by the keeper. Other good opportunities became available, however, a third goal from Clarkstown seemed to put a dent in any comeback hopes. The score-line could have been worse only for some heroics from goalkeeper Paul Curtis. Other strong performers were Tadgh Donegan, Feichin Gilsenan, and Paul Teiran.
Next week the thirds will play SICJA (venue undecided) while the first and second team play at SUNY Purchase at Noon and 2 p.m.
Moms, Southbend start strong
The women’s winter season of the Bronx Irish Soccer League kicked off on a decidedly summer-like day in Van Cortlandt Park last Saturday. No surprises resulted with Parlour Moms and the Starting Gate Harps displaying the form that garnered them the summer silverware. The latter had an easy 5-0 victory over a numerically disadvantaged Southbend, albeit aided by a couple of own goals. A valiant first-half performance from the Southbend kept the teams level at the break but the floodgates opened in the second half as tiredness got the better of them. Parlour Moms dispatched the challenge of Gilligan’s courtesy of strikes from Mara Kaplan and Valerie Sch’ffer.
O’Malley’s of Rockland made their return to the league only to go down to Lansdowne A in a 3-0 loss. Sadie Bolger put away one while Kate McGrail knocked home two.
After only five minutes, Fiona’s were 2-0 up against a slow-starting Beal Bocht. A handball in the area gave Aaron Tracy an opportunity she didn’t squander as she slotted the resulting penalty past Pauline Boylan in the Beal Bocht goal. Minutes later Teresa O’Malley punished a napping defense when she broke through for her team’s second. An Beal Bocht fought back only to be denied by the crossbar on two occasions. In the second half, Mary Touhey grabbed one back and as the Bocht strove for the equalizer they were caught on the break when Hillary Kelly sealed a Fiona’s win in the dying minutes.
Next Saturday’s fixtures see Lansdowne B vs. Starting Gate Harps and Fiona’s vs. Southbend at 11:30 a.m., while at 1 p.m. Lansdowne A play Gilligan’s and An Beal Bocht face Parlour Moms.