Courageous Connolly Saves the Day!

The Shamrocks Legends had to settle for a draw against lowly positioned Eintracht FC at Randall’s Island on Sunday, despite fielding a very strong team that performed at a high level across the pitch for 90 minutes. Indeed, the Rocks, who created a number of decent chances throughout the game, just managed to scrape a point with a late equalizing goal that made for an end result of 1:1.

There were strong and skillful performances from the likes of John Riordan and Paddy Geraghty. Brian ‘Wilto’ Woolahan was up and down the left wing like a young Gary Birtles, while Ryan Thompson was a constant threat to the opposition with his quiet assassin’s approach to attack. However, the undoubted hero of the hour was Andy Connolly, who came off the bench to somehow find the needed goal that the likes of Eddie ‘gloveless’ Gilmartin could not find for love nor money.

True to the old lore that bald men share a certain telepathy that is known only to them (they also know how to cure warts, apparently!), Connolly latched on once more to another of Stevie Doyle’s zippy crosses. With the hapless (too much hair?) Geraghty unable to meet the ball, Connolly foxily nipped in at the back post and somehow stretched himself to make contact with the ball through a part of his anatomy that shall remain undisclosed to the polite ears of our dear readers. Suffice to say, among a group of men who were firing blanks all game, Connolly proved that he has the balls to finish.

In the over-30s Division, Paddy McCarry’s men continued to apply their merciless marauding of all that come across their path. Despite missing 5 regular starters, the Rocks showed their great strength of depth and discipline as a squad to see off Brooklyn Gunners 7-0. Goals from Eoin Carew, Maurichio Eoin (2), and Pat Kelly saw the indomitable over-30s take a 4-0 lead at half-time. An early second half penalty scored by one of McCarry’s men (and Bingo was his name-o!) made it 5-0. With an aging Dave Harvey running his little legs off, the Rocks sealed the victory with goals from Mark Finn and Aiden Mortan.

“Very happy with the clean sheet and the work rate of the players,” remarked the ever-enthusiastic McCarry. “This is another step closer to booking our place in the semi-final playoffs for the league. With great performances all round, there are two men of the match that stand out: Mark Finn and Eoin Carew.”

A hard working, skilful, and dominant performance from the 1960s team was just not enough against Gotham Argo in the cold late of Sunday night on Pier 40. Although buoyed by the fact that some strong players were returning to the fold, the Rocks had their backs to the wall early on as the speedy attack of Gotham pounced unsparingly on its chances to take a 2-0 lead. An excellent rally from Andy Connolly’s men saw the rocks take full control of possession and attack, with the eventual reward of an excellent Joe Flynn free-kick bringing the score down to 2-1 before the break.

More composed possession and excellent build-up play from the 1960s in the second half was to no joy, and the fast-paced Gotham attack snuck two more late goals on the break to earn a flattering 4-1 victory. Connolly’s men should not feel too despondent by what was, despite what the score line hints, a compact display. They must now rally themselves again for a night trip to play Ridgewood Romac on Wednesday.

Connolly announced after the game that he is “extraordinarily proud of this team and its refusal to stop fighting, no matter the odds or setbacks.” Praising what he saw as “a gutsy determination to get on the ball and make things work from the backline all the way forward,” Connolly singled out Sean Glynn and his wesht (the ‘h’ isn’t silent) end of Galway style of play: “there was really good performances from James Horan at center-half, Amar in the center, and Ronan Harvey on the left. But Sean tonight was a man among men. He was strong in the tackle, a wizard going forward, and just a real warrior for the whole team. A deserving man of the match and, like so many of these lads, a long term asset for the future of the club.”

The Shamrocks reserves continued their great run of form by beating Doxa 3:2, despite playing with only 10 men for 60 minutes of the game after goalkeeper, Kieran McGovern was sent off for a foul that led to a penalty. Wee Mickey from Belfast McGreevy gave the Rocks an early goal lead before Doxa equalized from the penalty spot to make it level at half-time.

Center-half, Rob Gaynor gallantly showed the way with a capable performance in goals and the 10 man disadvantage never really showed as goals from Paul McDaid and Andrew Scott saw the reserves cruise through the second half with a comfortable. A late consolation from Doxa did nothing to unsettle the Rocks who now take pride of place at the top of their division, following a defeat for Lansdowne on Sunday.

In the Division 1 fixture, a last minute penalty denied the Shamrocks first team a victory on Sunday in Westchester where Doxa struck deep in injury time to snatch a 2-2 draw. A brilliant second half brace from Kwesi Mills-Odoi had the Rocks 2-0 up but Doxa never gave up and deservedly pulled themselves back into it.

“Very immature performance,” said Kevin Grogan. “Hopefully an opportunity for our players to learn.”

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