Shamrocks first team coach Kevin Grogan has warned of a tough Spring campaign in Division 1 of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League ahead of Sunday’s trip to take on NYAC (Travers Island – 12pm).
NYAC, who dominated the league in the 90s, endured a difficult Fall, but have strengthened their squad as they bid to avoid relegation.
The departures of Jamie Clarke, Ibrahim Diaby and Conal McGrandles have hurt the play-off chasing Rocks but a busy off-season and a strong squad has the mood in the camp high.
“Very excited to get back playing,” admitted Grogan.
“It’ll be one game at a time as always and we’ll have to see where that takes us. Spring is notoriously tough in this league and we will have to fight for everything.”
The 10am curtain raiser at the beautifully appointed venue will be a battle between third and fourth as NYAC’s reserves attempt to reverse September’s 2-0 defeat and stay ahead of the Rocks.
Currently, John Riordan’s men are a point behind NYAC in fourth place but they will bring a strong squad to Pelham as they bid to leapfrog their opponents.
“We’re expecting a wide open game and we’re certainly ready for it to be very tough,” said Riordan.
“The return of Sean Steed from injury is huge for us and it’s a massive boost for his team mates. It’ll be very tough picking a first 11.”
Meanwhile, Shamrocks 1960 also have an away game with Gotham Argo hosting Andy Connolly’s fourth-placed side at Randalls Island 74 (kick-off 12pm).
Elsewhere, an influx of talented new players has readied 1960 for a spring charge and they will come into this buoyed by an exciting penalty shoot out victory over Division 2 Reserves outfit Manhattan Kickers in the Saunders Cup.
“We’ll be looking to avenge a tough 3-2 loss the last day we met,” said player assistant coach Neil Mannion.
“They’ve a few pacey players throughout the side and a not so pacey player on the sideline who will probably be looking to make a big impact on the game again.”
At St Michaels, there will be a double header involving the Women’s B team and the Legends (1pm and 3pm).
Emmett Harvey has continued to bolster his side and a cross conference Over 37s Divisional showdown with CPR Legends will be stern test of their play-off hopes.
CPR are a distant second behind champions Cozmoz in the West having clinched five wins, three losses and two ties. The Rocks, meanwhile, are third in the East, six points behind Manhattan Kickers.
“We have a large squad to choose from this Sunday,” said Harvey.
“It will give us some really good options against a CPR Legends side that are doing very well in their conference. We had some pre-season games and training which should stand to us.
“With a few new additions in David Symington,Marcus Nascimento and the return of Colin Lee, Brian O’Connor and Emmett Murphy we have strength in depth. Our goal is to play each game as they come, play well and hopefully finish as high as we can in the league.”
Shamrocks Women B will welcome Manhattan Kickers / Scala / Phoenix for the 1pm game and coach Keith Perez is looking forward to a welcome return to action after snow ruled out last week’s games.
“We’re looking to build on the victory against the league leaders Beyond,” said Perez.
“Although having a week off wasn’t ideal, I believe our winter workouts, trainings, and new signings will give us the edge both physically and mentality. I expect the ladies to put in another solid team performance.”
A different venue will host a similar match-up as the Division A leading Shamrocks head to East 6th St for a clash with Manhattan Kickers / Scala (kick-off 1pm).
“We will have a depleted squad so it’ll be a tougher game for us,” admitted Paddy Geraghty.
“But one of the positives is everyone will play more and improve their match fitness. We’ll be looking for another 3 points to stay clear at the top.”