Rocks Women feature in Irish Echo

The Irish Echo recently published an excellent feature about our women’s team in for their last paper of 2015.

UPDATE: Jay Mwamba kindly sent us the text of the article. See below.

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SHAMROCK’S WOMEN BECOME FORCE IN JUST SECOND METRO SEASON

Call this the Irish era in New York area amateur soccer. In the last couple of seasons, two clubs, notably two-time champs Lansdowne Bhoys and Shamrock, have proudly flown the flag in the CSL, America’s premier amateur league.

Now the women are getting into the act.

Twelve months after their debut, the Shamrock team has emerged as a force in the New York Metropolitan Women’s Soccer League. Winless in their rookie season, the Irish lasses went into the winter break on top of the ‘B’ Division.

The Paddy Geragthy coached side suffered just one loss in all competitions in the fall –- and that was a 3-2 decision to ‘A’ Division leaders NY Magic in the State Cup quarterfinals.

“It’s like two different teams from [2014] to this year,” notes Geraghty, a long time Shamrock men’s team stalwart whose wife Tricia Reed co-founded the women’s side with Erin Cullen and Teresa Brink. “We didn’t win a game last year. This year we have won nine of our last 10 with our only defeat in the State Cup.”

And in addition to topping the standings, the Shamrock women are through to the league cup final after blanking Astoria 4-0 in the semi-finals in November.

So what led to this remarkable turnaround?

A number of factors, according to Geraghty.

They include an intensive recruitment effort that yielded gems such as the free scoring Sinead Hennessy and former college standout Teresa Ferraro; and the introduction of weekly training sessions at Harlem River Park.

Geraghty modestly glosses over his own impact as the team’s first official coach, a role he initially agreed to as “husband duty,” said wife and co-manager Tricia.

A former Purdue University player, Tricia Reed lauds her Dubliner husband’s contribution.

“Paddy has really embraced his role as our coach [and] no longer just as a ‘husband duty.’ He’s created a culture, and I get nothing but positive feedback from the girls. He understands the game better than any coach I’ve ever had, and is very strategic,” Reed said.

Co-founder Erin Cullen, a teammate of Tricia’s with the Harps in the Bronx Irish Soccer League before they launched the Shamrock women, concurred.

“The addition of Paddy Geraghty as coach has also expedited our team’s progress,” added Cullen, the team’s vastly experienced defense lynchpin whose playing career from youth level in New Jersey to the Shamrocks spans more than 25 years.

Thanks to the successful pre-season recruitment effort led by Tricia, Geraghty has a panel of 30 players to select his 18-member match day squad from every week. It’s a far cry from the sparse squad in Shamrock’s rookie season.

“The first year was really tough; we struggled for numbers every week for practice and games,” recalled Tricia. “We lost or tied most games, but every game we were playing with seven to 11 girls. I think we only had a [substitute] two games the whole season.”

Inevitably, as is always the case in soccer, or any sport for that matter, all the best made plans depend on the athlete[s] executing. Thankfully for the Shamrock ladies, their recruiting hit pay dirt.

SNIPER SINEAD

Forward Sinead Hennessy, from an athletic family with roots in Callan, Count Kilkenny, where her dad was a youth hurler, is one of the Lady Rocks’ massive acquisitions. Recruited by Cullen, she captains the side and has a team-high 17 goals from just 11 appearances for the club.

“I’m so proud to be a part of this amazing team and club,” Hennessy said. “We’ve worked our [socks] off to get to the top of the league and we’re grateful to be recognized for our achievements.”

She grew up in rural Washington State, honing her soccer skills with her six brothers under the tutelage of their father, and credits her Shamrock teammates for her prolific scoring.

The bad news for the Rocks’ opponents is that Hennessy is champing at the bit ahead of the spring action. “I’m looking forward to the second half of the season and continuing to dominate at the top of the division,” she says.

DREAM SIGNING

Midfielder Teresa Ferraro is another key member of the retooled Shamrock women’s squad. Geraghty calls her a dream signing.

“Her effort and enthusiasm in midfield rubs off on everyone else and keeps the level of intensity very high. Her will to win is matched by her ability which is very rare,” he said.

Ferraro was born in Queens of Italian immigrant parents and has been steeped in soccer from the age of five when she started playing in coed games.

She grew up in elite soccer programs including the Alberston Fury youth academy and the New York State Olympic Development Program. Later, Ferraro attended Marist College in upstate Poughkeepsie on a full scholarship and made the All MAAC Academic Team. Other honors followed including First Team All MAAC in her senior year.

For all her talents and credentials, it was, ironically, romance that brought Ferraro to the Rocks. Her boyfriend and favorite player, Zachary Gosse, is a defender on the Shamrock men’s team.

“He is the reason I joined the Shamrocks,” noted Ferraro. “He is a leader to his teammates and inspires me to be a better person.”

Buoyed by the success of the current side and the interest from other players, the Rocks are mulling plans to form another ladies team.

“We are hoping to create a second team for next year, and we have a lot of women interested already,” said Tricia.

There is, however, the challenge of finding permits for playing fields.

Shamrocks have been working with the Parks Department in Queens and appreciate the help of City Council Representative Elizabeth Crowley. The club views its need for more space to play and practice on as key to its expansion in 2016.

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