Champagne cooled the baked turf of Field 74 on Sunday night as Paddy Geraghty’s men finally reached the summit of the CSL Division One.
A resounding 5-0 win against a severely depleted Greek Americans was the culmination of a brilliant, unbeaten season where composed defense was married to electric attacking football.
Paddy Geraghty has now overseen Division One championship wins in both Women’s and Men’s soccer for Shamrocks; a unique feat in a season that was itself, unique to say the very least.
The campaign began on a sunny Sunday on Roosevelt Island with mandatory facemasks, temperature checks and a palpable sense of relief that the club was getting to play football.
Uncertainty abounded. Would the authorities allow sport to continue? Would we ever have a complete league season?
To the eternal credit of Paddy Geraghty and indeed all the other coaches involved they blocked out the uncertainty and focused their team’s thoughts on the things they could control, winning games. And win they did.
The first half of the season saw the Firsts score 35 goals and concede only 9; three of those coming in a thrilling 4-3 win over arch rivals Manhattan Celtic in what proved to be the most decisive 3 points of the season.
The second half of the season started in similar fashion with thumping wins over Greek Americans, Richmond, Polonia. The reverse fixture against Manhattan Celtic proved to be another barnstormer. A 2-2 draw kept Shamrocks’ nose in front and proved to be a body blow to Celtic’s title ambitions.
There was to be one further small turn in the race to keep things interesting, a last minute equalizer from Zum Schneider meant that the title race was going down to the last day.
A scorching Sunday evening was the scene for the finale. Celtic kicked off two fields across knowing only a win from them and anything less than three points from Shamrocks would see them crowned champions. It was not to be.
Shamrocks tore into Greek Americans controlling every aspect of the game and quick fire goals from Buitrago and Cameron proved to be the all that was needed to end the tie as a contest.
Shamrocks coasted to 5-0 win and then the celebrations began in earnest.
Rob O’Neill’s Reserves whose facile final game was called off were there to receive their trophy and provide full-throated support for their clubmates as they have done all season.
Reserves captain Joey Flynn was the first to receive the trophy to uproarious delight from a talented and close knit squad.
Next up was talismanic midfielder and captain Darren Coleman whose metronomic passing set the tone for the team became the first Shamrocks captain to raise the CSL Division One title.
It was a moment that many, have contributed to, not just this year, but down through the years. Some are still in the club, some have moved away for warmer or indeed cooler climates and some of our dear friends and teammates are no longer with us. Their memories were kept alive by Sunday night’s victories and for many there those people were close in their thoughts.
In a 12 months that saw us lose so much this was a moment to savor. The glint of the floodlights off those trophies might just have been the light at the end of a dark tunnel.