- Coach Grogan lauds “amazing night” for club
- O’Loughlin’s winner sets up semi-final berth
- Over 30s & reserves continue play-off push
- Legends host Kickers in crucial clash
- Rocks Women and Whites set for title showdown
The Shamrocks are headed to the CSL Division 1 play-offs!
Almost a year after avoiding relegation to the second tier and in just the second season of our long awaited return to the top flight, a well earned 1-0 win over Zum Schneider means the Rocks will finish no lower than fourth with five games still to play.
Charlie O’Loughlin made a scoring return to action after the big defender was sprung from the bench in the second half for an attacking role which would ultimately prove crucial.
The match winner arrived on the hour mark courtesy of a one-two between O’Loughlin and right back Laurie Child whose low return pass was converted from close range at the second attempt.
This weather-postponed make-up home game was dominated by the Rocks but Zum held out for 60 tense minutes in spite of great chances for Kwesi Mills-Odoi, Alex Wasilewski and Giuseppe Barone.
The away team were reduced to ten men late in the second half and although Kevin Grogan’s men couldn’t manage a second goal, there was never any doubt of securing this historic win.
“Amazing night for the club,” said Grogan afterwards.
“We have a guaranteed play-off game as well as a State Cup final in June. It was very much a club effort and let’s not forget the great work Glen Wrafter put in to get the Shamrocks back to the top division. His players did a great job to achieve that.
“I made some tough decisions along the way regarding squad selection and recruitment policy but I always made what I felt were the best decisions for the long term success of the club.
“Everyone has played their part. Stephen Doyle has been a key element in our success this season. A quality person to have alongside me.
ON TO DOXA FOR FIRSTS AND RESERVES
The second-placed Rocks now head to Westchester on Sunday evening for what should be a tricky clash with struggling Greek outfit Doxa (Skidelsky Field – 8pm).
The newly promoted side have been dragged into a relegation battle after three defeats in a row since the restart of the season but will present a dogged challenge to Grogan’s men who are now looking to finish as high as possible before June’s semi-final.
Indeed, with Lansdowne traveling to Massachusetts for a Fricker National Cup quarter-final, the Shamrocks can even regain top spot with a win.
Meanwhile, the reserves have two games in five days that should all but secure play-off qualification in their own campaign for the post-season.
First up is Doxa whose seconds are finding life tough in the top flight, winless in the league since October. A slender 1-0 victory was earned by the Shamrocks in November’s home game but coach John Riordan is wary of the trip to New Rochelle (Skidelsky Field – 6pm).
“It’s a difficult game from all points of view,” Riordan noted. “We’re missing a couple of key players and it’s obviously a tough journey for our fellas on a Sunday evening. But this is the first of four very important games for us between now and the first weekend in May so we need to accept all these challenges.”
OVER 30s CONTINUE PLAY-OFF PUSH
Earlier on Sunday, the depleted Over 30s champions will travel to Hoboken as they attempt to take one step closer to the play-offs (Laurel Hill Park – 2pm).
“We’ll be going into Sunday looking for another three points,” said Paddy Mc Carry.
“Hoboken away is always a tricky fixture. We are missing quite a few big players so this makes the task even harder. We will be without Sean Mc Mullan, Bingo O’Driscoll, Pat Kelly, Lonan Maguire, Paddy Geraghty and our leading goal scorer Johnny Mc Geeney.
“But we are boosted by the return of Johhny Keogh, Sean Riley and Tomas Maher. We have an extremely strong squad and that will be tested Sunday. It gives squad players the chance to step up.”
IRISH DERBY FOR 1960
The long awaited Metro 1 Irish Derby sees Shamrocks 1960 host Lansdowne at St Michaels with a 3pm kick-off, the second of two games at our Queens hub.
“It’s now about trying to finish as high up the league as possible and representing the jersey with the pride and passion it deserves,” said player assistant coach Neil Mannion.
“That starts with an Irish Derby which shouldn’t take much motivation to get up for!”
LEGENDS BID TO CURTAIL KICKERS
The curtain raiser will be a vital one for the in-form Shamrocks Legends whose winning start to Spring has set up an exciting play-off push.
Emmett Harvey’s men will host first-placed Manhattan Kickers at 1pm needing a win to stay alive and also knowing that achieving victory will push the Rocks to within three points of the pace setters with three games to play.
“On the back of two really good wins, we are heading into this one with confidence and belief that if we play well, then we can get a good result,” said player-coach Harvey.
“Manhattan Kickers and SC Gjoa are the favorites for the title so we are under no pressure. We have a large but very strong squad to choose from and I know that every player will give 100% to the team. We are taking each game as it comes and we are looking forward to this fixture.”
WOMEN’S TITLE SHOWDOWN
Meanwhile, in the Metro Women’s League, it’s first against second as Division A champions CPR White host Division B holders Shamrocks at East 6th St (kick off 11am).
This is a must-win for the hosts but the target for Paddy Geraghty is to move his team one step closer to clinching the title.
“We have a tough game on Sunday against our closest rivals,” he noted. “We have a strong squad coming off a good training session on Tuesday so hopefully that will translate into a good performance.”
Sunday will begin early for the club when NY Skulls welcome Shamrocks B to Randalls Island 82 for a 9am appointment.
“We’re looking to get back to winnings ways,” said coach Keith Perez.
“The last game was a tough loss and it meant we missed out on a chance to take control of the league. Despite that result, our mission remains the same as we need to win out the remaining games. We have a short roster this weekend so our heart and determination will be tested but I expect the ladies to step up and bring back a favorable result.”