- Firsts down Greeks in Met Oval thriller
- Shot stopper Frankie’s heroics prove key
- Wheeler brace clinches Rocks Women win
- Reserves march on, set up Lansdowne semi
- Over 30s keep back-to-back bid alive
The Shamrocks can contest four State Cup finals in June after a thrilling weekend that saw the firsts, reserves, Over 30s and women’s team all advance to the next round.
It was almost midnight on Sunday when Frankie Tsasse saved a second penalty in a dramatic 7-6 shootout victory that sparked wild celebrations and sent the Rocks through to a June 4 Manning Cup showdown against CSL rivals Lansdowne.
That Irish Derby will pair two teams that have never won this trophy and it is sure to be a memorable occasion. And Kevin Grogan will be encouraged by this impressive performance against a highly talented Greek outfit.
90 minutes of attacking football at the historic Met Oval could not separate two evenly matched sides – an early Andy O’Connell penalty put the Rocks a goal to the good after the superb Giuseppe Barone was taken down in the box but a Zachary Gosse own goal leveled it after half-time setting up the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
Sean Reilly, Andy O’Connell and Chris Uy scored the first three and both teams missed their fourth opportunities. Emil Thomsen made it four before a Laurie Child miss was evened out by Tsasse’s first save. Captain Gosse, Kwesi Mills-Odoi and defender Dan Giorgi all dispatched confidently before Tsasse ultimately denied that crucial final effort.
Giuseppe Barone and Sean Reilly starred in central midfield
“Amazing victory,” said the delighted Grogan.
“Very proud of the players. The work ethic was phenomenal and the discipline was excellent.
“It was an end-to-end game and the Greeks are a very good team as you would expect. Frankie pulled off two great penalty saves. I’m delighted for the club to be in a State Cup final. Well deserved. Great win. Great club! I feel privileged to be involved.”
COLEMAN EXCELS FOR RESERVES
There will also be an Irish Derby for the reserves in the next round after their 6-0 win over East Hampton in Long Island on Saturday earned a D’Arpino Cup semi-final for John Riordan’s men.
Darren Coleman tore the East Hampton defense apart in the second half after a scoreless first half, the Tipperary man netting twice and setting up two more as the floodgates opened.
It was 0-0 at half-time in spite of an early disallowed goal for birthday boy Nikle Guzijan. Coleman got the scoring underway five minutes after the break and then he set up fellow striker and team captain Paul McDaid who made it 2-0.
Sean O’Neill had been barely sprung from the bench when he scored with almost his first touch and he then completed his brace five minutes later. Coleman set up Johnny Hayes for 5-0 before scoring his second after an assist from O’Neill.
“We made hard work of it initially and the conditions didn’t help but that second half was very enjoyable,” said coach John Riordan.
“We knew we had to be patient and get that first goal. I’m glad our fellas enjoyed it and that we came away from a potentially tricky game with a big win. We’re looking forward to the semi-final now. It should be an exciting game!
“I also want to thank our founding members, Tony and Noel Halpin, and Paddy Rooney who all came out to support us. We enjoyed the celebrations at TJ Halpins after the game!”
OVER 30s SURVIVE STIFF PORT JEFF CHALLENGE
Elsewhere, Marth Cup champions Shamrocks Over 30s marched on to their own semi-final thanks to a hard fought 3-0 win at Port Jefferson in Centereach.
Top scorer Johnny McGeeney scored twice while there was also a strike for Brazilian forward Leo Coimbra, sending Paddy Mc Carry’s men onwards as they bid to keep their back-to-back dream alive.
“This was without a shadow of a doubt the most physical game I have ever been involved in,” said Mc Carry.
“We held our composure and did not react and eventually we finished them off. It was a real battling performance by the whole squad.
“Lonan Maguire had a great game today for us in center mid and Johnny was his usual self, a lot of work up top and two great finishes.
“This is our cup and this team intends to hold on to it. I’m very pleased to be in the semi finals.”
THAT LEFT FOOT THOUGH…
Meanwhile, Chloe Wheeler scored two stunning strikes to send the Shamrocks Women’s team through to the final four.
In what was a hotly anticipated clash of the two Division A high fliers, the current champions CPR took a lead after an error at the back.
But the Rocks gathered their composure and equalized through a brilliantly worked play involving Wheeler and captain Teresa Ferraro which allowed the team’s top scorer to rifle home a left-footed strike.
The Rocks deservedly took the lead in the second half, another left footer from the Californian which sealed a memorable win for Paddy Geraghty’s charges on what was a special day for the club legend, celebrating his 40th birthday back at the Courtyard Ale House.
“This was our toughest match of the season and a true battle for 90 minutes,” said captain Teresa Ferraro.
“They came out strong and tested us with an early goal. Everyone stepped up, we found our composure and fought back for a hard-earned W. Excellent win. We’re looking forward to the semi-final now.
“It was a team effort but Chloe’s goals proved what she is all about… that left foot though!”
Unfortunately, Shamrocks Women B could not gain a foothold in their title race, succumbing 4-2 to now outright leaders NY United. Cassie Esposito and Shannon Fitzpatrick were on the mark for the home team.
In the Saunders Cup quarter-final, Shamrocks 1960 were unlucky with injuries, conceding three second half goals in a 3-1 loss to Koarbi in Staten Island. Dave Harvey had ensured a half-time lead for the Rocks.
“No complaints,” said player assistant coach Neil Mannion. “We’ll see out the league campaign now.”