In a stirring display on Saturday night in Roosevelt Island, the ten men of the Shamrocks first team came back from 1-0 down to beat NY Ukrainians courtesy of goals from Nikle Guzijan and Paddy Geraghty.
“To say I’m delighted with the result is an understatement,” said coach Glen Wrafter.
“I think the three points were well deserved given the training we have put in over the winter in some Baltic conditions on Roosevelt Island. The result puts us three points behind second place NY Ukrainians with a game in hand.”
The visitors took the lead against the run of play after 30 minutes with a sweeping move which cut open the Shamrocks defense.
Then after the hour mark, Shamrocks were dealt a blow when centre-half Rob Gaynor was sent off after a second bookable offense.
“Nobody, with the exception of the referee, could recall the first booking,” insisted Wrafter and Gaynor himself was unaware of how the mix-up occured.
But then thanks to some canny tactical changes by the Rocks sideline, the hosts took control and equalised after 70 mins through a header from Guzijan from a Joey Aronovsky corner.
“Joey Aronovsky terrorized the Ukrainian defense,” said Wrafter. “But special mention also to Shane Moore who kept the outstanding Ukrainians #10 very quiet all game and to goalkeeper Robbie O’Neill pulled off some fine saves to keep us in the game.”
Then, with ten minutes to go, Geraghty, Shamrocks captain on the night, smashed the ball into the net from close range, again from a Shamrock’s corner.
It was a memorable evening overall for O’Neill who guided the Reserves to an impressive 3-0 win in the curtain raiser.
It was the Ukrainian Reserves first league defeat of the season and it helped the Rocks gain revenge on the league leaders for a heavy loss back in September. The win leaves them just a point behind them with a game in hand.
Returning after a knee operation, top scorer Sean Mc Mullan opened the scoring when his first half free kick took a deflection which gave the keeper no chance. Kevin Farrell ended a fine move with an excellent strike over the keeper midway through the second half to make it 2-0 before striker John McDonnell rounded out a great night with a lovely left foot finish to the far corner which went through the keeper’s legs.
“This was a great return to league action for us,” said coach O’Neill who also played in goal for the majority of the game.
Ruairi Lavery and Neil Mannion played incredibly well at the back for the Rocks while Ryan McKinley was inspirational throughout. There were also impressive performances from four new signings, Marc Eisenberg, Joe O’Connor, Niall Brennan and Conor O’Sullivan.
“We won’t be getting carried away,” added O’Neill. “There are still six games to go and we’re determined to make sure every one of those games counts.”
Meanwhile the Over 30s were beaten 6-5 on Sunday morning by Tesoro at Randall’s Island in spite of a hat-trick from man of the match Eugene Gormley. Mike Bishop and Paddy Geraghty were also on the scoresheet but the Rocks paid for some poor defending in the final 20 minutes and conceded four goals.
“I made mistakes myself managing and made changes I shouldn’t have,” said disappointed coach Paddy Mc Carry. “Just one of those days bad day at the office.”