Category: Archive

Soccer Shamrocks crush champions Croatia

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Shamrocks 3, Croatia 0

When an 18-year veteran of the first team says “that was the best Shamrock performance that I remember,” little more needs to be said. The league champion’s banner flew at half staff as the Shamrocks departed the Boonton, N.J., home of Croatia on Sunday with a 3-0 victory.

It was a confident Croat pack that took the field against the Rocks. They weren’t to know, though, the dressing down that their opposition had given themselves after the disappointing home draw with lowly Gottschee the week previous, nor were they aware of Tim Cummins’s eagerness to don the green again, having finished the collegiate season. A time bomb was about to explode.

The first 20 minutes were scrappy enough, but there were encouraging signs for the away side. Cummins slotted back into his striking role immediately and the defense, solid as ever, served notice enough that it was about to become a difficult afternoon for the League champs.

The Shamrocks took control and the clever passing, coupled with aggressive tackling, soon had Croatia in trouble. On 25, the John Guildea goal drought came to an end. He received the ball on the left wing, skipped past one defender, dummied past a second, looked up to find little options available in the box, so from a full 30 yards out and on the wing, he decided to have a go, his curling shot finding the top right-hand corner with the keeper helpless.

Perhaps it was the relief felt throughout the team that “the Boss” had finally scored, or maybe it was just a renewed self-belief, but after the goal the Shamrocks played the type of football that wins championships. They went in at the break a goal to the good.

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After 15 minutes of the second half, Croatia finally wilted to the constant bombardment, and when Michael Bishop found Tim Cummins in a one-on-one situation with the Croatian goalkeeper, there was only one possible outcome: 2-0.

The Shamrocks could feel confident now. Their goals-against column reads at less than one per game and Cummins doesn’t ever score just one. As is often the case when a team goes up 2-0, a period of pressure has to be endured from the team behind. That short spell having elapsed, though, the cocky Shamrocks took control again. After a Ger Watson goal was disallowed, the inevitable third did come when Guildea won the ball in a tussle with the keeper, it dribbled across the 6-yard box to find the running Tim Cummins, who made no mistake.

You had to feel a little remorse for the champs when the Shamrocks came up with a period of passing a-la Leeds United versus Southampton in the heady days of Don Revie. Marshsalled by Skipper Paul Wilson, this period of panache had the Croats chasing after the ball.

The game ended at 3-0, Croatia should feel relieved that the margin wasn’t a lot higher.

The features of the win were once again safe handling of Kevin McPartland in nets, the strong defense of Mike Bishop and Aiden Welsh, and the leadership, ‘rial power and timely challenges of ever-improving skipper Robbie Walsh.

The confident sweeping of the ageless Paul Wilson was another feature, as was the non-stop running of Billy Henderson and the intelligent distribution of Terry Lawless. The attacking raids on the flanks by Ger Watson and “Leaky” Lannon and the goal scorers, John Guildea, who had his best game thus far, and Tim Cummins, were also impressive.

Meanwhile, the second team exited from the State Cup via a 2-1 defeat by the heavily favored Glen Cove. The Rocks performed heroics to go a goal up courtesy of the boot of Kevin Brennan, but as the floodlights came on at Downing Stadium, the lights went out for the Shamrocks as far as their cup-winning aspirations were concerned, as Glen Cove scored two in the last 20 minutes to advance.

Also, the third team swept to a 5-0 victory over Scruffy United with goals from Niall Carolan, Sean Keogh, Declan Roche, Terry Horan and Willie Murphy. The efforts and endeavor of the Shamrock Soccer Club are dedicated to hospitalized goalkeeper Andy Marcoons.

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