Five-game countdown begins with visit of Pancyprians

  • Grogan welcomes new signing Alejandro Fritz
  • Reserves aim to keep pressure on NYAC
  • First v second as Over 30s get set for CPR Grays challenge
  • Leaders 1960 take on the Finest
  • Women’s team return to action after weekend off

SHAMROCKS sunday schedule graphic

“Every game is a cup final now,” Shamrocks boss Kevin Grogan has pointed out ahead of Sunday’s tough St Michael’s assignment against the league leading Pancyprians (kick-off 3pm).

For the second time in the space of five weeks, the Rocks will have to work out a way past last season’s Division 1 runners-up who come into this game on the back of a hard fought 1-0 win over Lansdowne in the Manning Cup.

But Grogan has his own reason for confidence after a good League Cup quarter-final victory at the Greek Americans. The Pancyprians have slipped slightly since the league resumed – that last gasp draw they grabbed at home to the Rocks preceded a 1-0 away loss at Everton FC Westchester Eagles two weeks ago.

“We will have a very strong squad this weekend,” added Grogan. “We have five league games left and we need strength-in-depth from now until the end. We signed Alejandro Fritz this week and I’m delighted with that because he will be a great addition.”

The reserves game will be a chance for Stevie Doyle’s men to close the gap on top side NYAC who won’t be in action this weekend. The Rocks reserves have enjoyed two well deserved wins in a row, the former of which was also achieved at the expense of Sunday’s opponents.

With the Pancyprians going all out to deny Lansdowne a third title in a row, their reserves have suffered somewhat and haven’t won a game since the first weekend in October, ironically a 3-1 success over current leaders NYAC reserves.

Doyle has a full squad to choose from ahead of Sunday’s match and his players are fully focused on a third win in a row.

“The most pleasing thing is that we have tightened up considerably at the back with what is a very experienced defense,” said Doyle.

“We have added more quality both at midfield and up top so it’s a very rounded squad and I’m very pleased with our performances this side of the season. Three points is crucial at this stage in order to stay in the running.”

Meanwhile, in the earliest kick-off of the day, it will be first against second in the Over 30s Division with Paddy Mc Carry’s title holders facing CPR Grays in a game that will go a long way towards deciding the destination of this year’s league.

The Shamrocks hold a seven-point advantage over CPR but they have played a game more and Mc Carry said this week he is focused on turning the screw on their nearest challengers.

“Sunday is another massive game for us,” said coach Paddy Mc Carry.

“They’re second and they need to beat us but if we can prevent that, we are going to be very hard to catch. We’re missing Sean Riley up front but it is a full squad otherwise so I firmly believe they can do the business Sunday. Everyone of them want their title back and the chance to do the double is a big motivation. We did not play great last week – it will be a different story on Sunday.”

Metro 2 East leaders Shamrocks 1960 will take on struggling NY’s Finest later in the day at Flushing Meadow Park 5 (kick-off 5pm) and assistant coach Neil Mannion has promised his team are not looking past this one even as they edge closer to locking up the top seed in the play-offs.

NY’s Finest have just three wins so far – their last success coming at the start of December, a 2-1 away win at Metro City Fury.

“We certainly won’t be taking the opposition lightly,” said Mannion. “They will be trying to play the spoiler role so we’ll have to be ready for that eventuality.”

There will be a late kick-off for the Over 36s Irish derby when the Manhattan Celtic Masters host the Shamrocks Legends at Randalls Island Field 74 at 8pm.

Celtic are just a point ahead of the Rocks but Emmett Harvey’s men enjoyed a huge boost last week when beating CPR Legends 3-1 at St Michael’s.

“It was a brilliant performance and we are looking to continue that against a strong Manhattan Celtic side,” said Harvey. “We play well as a team and have a great squad and if we cut out some individual errors and take our chances we can finish high up in the table.”

Elsewhere, the Metro Women’s League leaders will travel to Brooklyn for a 1.30pm kick off against Queens rivals Astoria.

“They are a team that gave us a tough game earlier in the season when we beat them 2-1,” pointed out coach Paddy Geraghty. “We had a good training session on Tuesday and we’re ready to continue our good run. A win will set us up nicely for the run-in.”