DIARY OF A MANAGER

The Story of Season 2001/02 Terenure College, Leinster Senior League, Division 2

INRODUCTION

 

After the positive feedback from last seasons “Diary”, I started this season’s one earnestly from our first training session back, so what you’ll read this year is far longer than last year’s effort.  I hope you enjoy what was going through my head for the last ten months and let it be a warning to those of you who reckon managing you lot is a piece of cake.  It’s great fun, but a piece of cake it ain’t.

Thankfully, I’ve been lucky again to have total support from all  31 players who played competitively for me this season.  From the time-keeping to doing their stuff on the pitch, all of you gave 100% application and that is all I can ask for.  That we didn’t end up with silverware this season was not due to lack of effort and it was a season where were constantly fighting a losing battle against injuries, the like of which I can’t remember ever having in all my years in Junior Football.  That we were the kick of a ball away from a Cup Final and finished third in the League is a measure of how well everybody performed against the odds and I admire you all greatly.  The progress we have made since getting promoted has been impressive and with a greater share of luck next season, we can continue to improve and again fight for silverware.

I would also again like to thank Fergus Bishop and Sean Doherty who supported and encouraged me all season.  As usual they were forced into breaking up the core of their team when my squad was decimated and they never refused me a favour or a player.  So thanks guys.  Thanks also to the wives/partners/girflriends/kids of all the players, I appreciate the sacrifices your men/Daddys have given me taking them away for a meaningless game of ball, training and coming home injured..  I really appreciate it.  Lastly thanks to our Chairman Rodney Bishop for the endless encouragement, kind words and weekly League tables.

Enjoy the season’s review and see you next season.

Phelim Warren, 14/5/02.

  

12/7/01, training.

Here we go again already, Cup and medals safely tucked away after a fitting booze-up in the Morgue a few weeks ago.  We are last season’s champions now, so it’s full steam ahead hopefully for an assault on Division 2.

Seventeen players have made it down for the first session of the season, it’s a fairly cool evening and just as well as a very light physical session takes place.  Just a few loosening laps, good stretch, a couple of more laps bringing up the pace eventually to flat out and short shuttles into a game which was most enjoyable.  Certain players on their own admission (as if they had to admit it) need to shed a few kilos, so the next couple of weeks are vital in getting the lads somewhat match fit and sharp.   Among the lads who’ll miss pre-season and the opening couple of games are Dennis O’Frighil and Keith Darragh (both in the States), sorry states no doubt, especially when they eventually come down, but 17 bodies isn’t bad for the first session.

 

17/7/01, training.

As Gus called it, “The Ant and Dec Show” came to the College tonight as Anto Hanley and Dec Fitzpatrick made "emotional” returns to the club.  Great to have them both back in this club for totally contrasting reasons which may or may not become clear to people who don’t know them for one reason or another.   Dec gets a second wind during the warm-down which according to Brian Cullen was down to the alleged wonders of Viagra.  The session was a little more testing than Thursday, though it did begin quite late as it was absolutely pouring down at 7.30.  Still everyone of the 15 who turned up tonight put it in as best they could.  Friendlies have been all but arranged in the next couple of weeks, so that’s to look forward to after we get the summer’s beer and substances out of our system.  Apart from Ant and Dec, we only have one newcomer so far, Muiris Hackett who has come from Stillorgan Lakelands and is more than capable of making a mark on either team.

 

19/7/01, training.

20 attended tonight, good early signs and the running was built up more tonight.  We got going at 7:40 which is OK, but we need to be more punctual.  The additional running told early in the kickabout, as we were all poxy till we found our feet again, it was quite good after that.  Dec was rolling back the years as he attempted some of his legendary late tackles, but Brian O’Donoghue in particular had long gone by the time Dec had slid in.  It will come right soon for Dec no doubt.  Raftie was back tonight, he’s been busy polishing the cup with Jack for the past two sessions, so it was good to see the Goal King back.

We had hoped for a game on Sunday but it has fallen through, but three games are set, next Thursday against Parkvale 2nds, Sunday week against Tallaght Shels and the following Thursday again versus CYM 2nds/3rds.  Those games should tell us plenty about our work to date.  Encouraging response so far from everyone.

 

24/7/01, training.

Great turnout tonight, 26 and the vast majority were ready to go at 7.30 which was a big improvement time-wise.  So 29 players have been down to date and with no shows yet from Fergal, Dennis, Keith, Richie Lombard, Kev Brady and injuries to Ger, Kev Garry and Dennis McCarthy, it’s a promising amount of bodies so far.  Again everyone worked as hard as they could and we spent almost two hours out there, so we can’t ask for more tonight.  Thursday’s game against Parkvale is off as they haven’t trained enough, so Sunday is the first friendly.  CY have asked for a game on Tuesday, their 3rds against our 2nds, so the CY game on Thursday becomes my team against their 2nds, so it will be a good test for us.  This Thursday’s session will be a practice game among ourselves.  It’s been an honest couple of weeks from everyone so far, let’s hope a similar attitude to matches can continue.

 

26/7/01, practice game.

Exactly 22 turned up for a practice game, so it worked out well and everyone got a good 90 minutes run.  It was a warm evening and there were some good patches of play and some sloppy goals.  Maurice impressed, pity he won’t be staying around, he’d be a real asset.  The score was 5-2, the goals coming from Fergal, Raftie, Maurice, Rodders and a Graham og, Karl replied with 2 for the others, one a peno.  It was a worthwhile exercise and everyone put in 100%, even if some were a lot more tired than others.

 

29/7/01, friendly, Terenure College 4, Tallaght Shels 3.

The team originally chosen during the week had 2 changes, Mick was unavailable as he hadn’t been well and Richie O’Loughlin slept late, so I had to come in on the right, Gar went to right-full, which meant Clank dropping to left full and Darren coming on the left of midfield .

Tallaght began brightly and their return to training a week prior to us was evident as they were sharper and first to everything.  Our physical presence though especially at the back was upsetting them and when John fairly won a ball over their 7, the little toerag spat at Karl, who was rightly furious.  Sadly the ref missed it, but 7’s revolting act set the tone for his behaviour during the game.   They took the lead after 3 minutes, we failed to mark at a throw and a 25 yard shot could only be helped into the net by Al.  Dreadful start but they deserved their lead.

Slowly we began to make our superior muscle tell and Dec and Karl were starting to get the upper hand.  After 15 minutes, Karl’s corner was met at the far post by John’s head and we were level.  We had the better of the rest of the half, Darren missed a great chance at the far post and Raftie scooped over from 6 yards after the lively Brian Cullen put over a great square ball.  Just before the break,  Darren, assuming the ball had gone over the end line, caught the ball and the ref rightly gave them a peno, but Al kept up his excellent record and saved the peno with his foot.  He also made a tremendous save low to his left, so 1-1 at the  break.

Early second half, Raftie’s excellent cross was headed into an empty net by Brian for 2-1.  I then brought on Richie for Clank, Sean for meself and Stephen for Darren.  It had an immediate effect -  we conceded an equaliser.  Richie was caught out of position and the lad finished with very well.  Karl lofted a free goalwards from 45 yards wide on the left and the keeper misjudged it and it dropped in for 3-2 after 65 minutes.  Again though shortly after, they beat our offside and the player rounded Al and made it 3-3.   The narky and nasty 7 then totally lost it, verbally abusing anyone within earshot and attempts to calm him were met with some choice verbals.  So it was decided to try and give him a deserved kick as Gar, Karl and Raftie pursued him to the corner near the lake as he had the ball.  After a heap of players emerged, the headbanger who is smaller than even me or Bullie, landed a haymaker on Raftie’s cheekbone.  Ref John Kavanagh saw this and red card was brandished in record time.  Raftie turned even whiter than normal, went off for a few minutes, but emerged again.  Karl’s dinked through ball allowed Brian to get his second for 4-3 after 89 minutes and that’s how it finished.

It was good to get a win, but we are not there as regards fitness or sharpness and we’ll have to build it up again in the next two weeks.  We kept going though as usual and that was the pleasing aspect of the day and it was a worthwhile exercise.  Brian is looking very sharp and eager, he is fighting hard for a first League game start and I am very impressed with his attitude.

 

31/7/01, training.

Bit of a pointless exercise really, only 6 of the panel down, with Raftie, Bullie, Denis and Richie still away, Ferg working and Karl injured, it just left me, Mick, Gar, John, Mark an Dec to join 4 others who weren’t involved in the 2nds game against CY.  We packed it in at 8.30 to watch the game.  Karl’s knee has flared up again after Sunday and it is a necessary evil we’ll all have to live with.  He feels he’ll be OK for the first league game with a bit of rest, but it may need another operation in the future.  So with that uncertainty I’ll have to get my Plan B in action for the season and I don’t have a clue what that is yet.

We’ll be fairly strong though on Thursday, Maurice will come in on the left of midfield and up front I’m taking a chance on a new face, Declan Dolan.  I was given him by Dave Dunne, CY’s first team coach and he’s been training a few weeks so he’s fit physically and my only real option alongside Brian with Raftie away and Richie only coming back on Thursday.  So Richie will join meself and Anto as subs.

 

2/8/01, friendly match, Terenure College 3, CYM Terenure 4.

As Maurice had to withdraw, I came in on the left of midfield and Richie started the first 10 minutes as Ferg got held up.  We were a bit of a mess in the first half, only for some good defending and excellent goalkeeping from Des we could have been more than 0-3 behind.

Firstly we were giving the ball away for fun, it was like a hot potato with us, none of us were taking any responsibility and from there we were on the back foot constantly through our own ineptitude on the ball.  Secondly we were not defending properly across midfield and neither were we competing at goal kicks and  CY were good value for their lead.  I hoped it wouldn’t become embarrassing as we trudged back on for the second half.

I took meself off after kicking the ball (badly) about 6 times during the half and Richie came on.  From the kick off, Mick played a nice one-two with John and we began playing like we know we can.  We competed better, kept the ball much better and Ferg found his feet in the middle and started causing them problems.  55 minutes in, shortly after Anto had a goal disallowed, typical Richie determination won a corner.  Mick swung it in from the right and Dec rose superbly to power in a header from 10 yards.  Back in the game and we kept up the pressure with Des a second half spectator.  A free to us on the right was again taken by Mick, Brian headed back across goal at the far post and Ferg who had ran over the free arrived late to fire home from close range for 2-3 and our tails very much up.

Ferg was now running the show and a wonderful 1-2 with Richie deserved an equaliser, but CY scrambled it clear.  We wouldn’t wait long for the equaliser.  Yet another free given away by them on the right, saw Mick play a lovely ball down the channel for Brian to run onto.  Brian whipped it over early and Dec dived in to head in from close range for a great goal.  The invention at set pieces was terrific and the second half display very encouraging.

They got a winner just on full time which was scarcely deserved, but we’d rescued our pride in the second 45 and played like we should have in the first.  Still we were understrength and Richie and Anto have a lot of fitness to catch up on, so I have to be pleased enough with our efforts tonight. 

I’ve seen the line-up for the league, Black Forge and Tymon again with Aer Lingus, Alpine (who knocked us out of the Cup), Pegasus, Meath Rangers, Kinvara, Cherryfield, Walkinstown and Cuckoo’s Nest.  Two and a half weeks to go, we’re shaping up OK, but the sharpness and slow starts of the two friendlies needs to improve.

 

7/8/01, training.

20 down tonight, one new face, Conor and one down for the first time, Eamon O’Brien.

I ran them quite hard tonight, time is getting close for the Leagues and we’re not sharp enough and it still shows.  Too many dropping off the pace early and reactions too slow to turning and sprinting.  Still they all did their best and got second wind but next week’s work is of critical importance.

Thurday’s double header against Parkvale has become just one game, we have too many not around, especially my team.  I rang Parkvale’s firsts manager Brian McGuinness to cancel and I know he wasn’t too impressed, knowing him as I do, but it was really out of my hands, I could have scraped eleven together but that’s just not my way of going into a friendly or any game for that matter.  So we’ll play a mainly seconds team on Thursday in the College with meself, Sparky, Richie Lombard and Bullie all getting starts.  The likes of Raftie, Brian Cullen, Mick, Gar will all be in for Sunday’s friendly against Blackrock College, so we should all be nicely set up for some hard running next Tuesday and final preparations Thursday week for the League.  Really looking forward to it starting now, hopefully no-one will join Karl on the injured list as we can’t afford any more absentees.  I’ll check on Karl’s progress tomorrow.

 

9/8/01, friendly, Terenure 2nds 1, Parkvale 2nds 1

A fair enough result I suppose given our very slow start and Alec having to make a few excellent saves at 0-1 before we equalised.  Conor Byrne made a decent enough appearance, it took him time to find his feet after such a long lay off, but the second half he showed he can be an asset to the club and he took his goal well with a low shot from the edge of the box.

As I said we were very slow out of the blocks and their midfield was sharper and we weren’t competing well enough.  When we did have the ball we weren’t penetrating much but the second half we dominated, Bullie went close 3 times second half, one striking the bar and Mark had a goal disallowed for an incorrect offside call, but again I reckon a draw was about right.  Plenty of heart from everyone, good attitude, good team spirit.  This was my first 90 minute game since last December and it told last 10, I was totally out of juice, but I enjoyed right back.  I needed the 90 as there’s a chance I’ll be starting Sunday and maybe even the League game. 

Karl is a bit more hopeful at present, but he remains a major doubt for the League kick-off, so I’ll start Conor again on Sunday in the hope the extra game and hopefully better opposition will lift his own level of performance and give me an option or two.  Still a few starting places up for grabs for Sunday week.

 

12/8/01, friendly, Terenure 5, Blackrock Coll 4.

Where do I start with this one?  Had to change the formation after Conor decided to go on the razz last night, so Brian Cullen was sent to midfield and Steo came in alongside Raftie.  Not a good start to the morning as I know Brian’s not at an age where he needs to be playing centre midfield, but I’d no real choice.

We started poorly again, admittedly there was an unbalanced and understrength look to the XI with the likes of John, Bullie, Ferg, Denis and the two Richies unavailable.  It didn’t excuse the poor quality of our play and our lack of marking which put too much pressure on the back four.  We started to squabble amongst ourselves and I got involved in it meself and I should know better.  Yet we found ourselves 2 up after 25 minutes, the first after good pressure from the eager Stephen, Raftie’s cross to the far post was headed in by Brian.  Minutes later a poor back pass was interecepted by Raftie and a clinical finish made it 2.  Flattering but I expected that it would enable us to play better.

It didn’t, they beat the offside trap for 2-1 and my frustration was taken out on Mick with a flippant and silly remark.  Near half time, we stood off the big 10 and he curled a left footer high into the net for 2-2 and a deserved equaliser.

Most of half time was wasted on the ongoing squabbles and Anto decided he’d had enough, so Brian O’Donohue came in. We started the 2nd half better.  I introduced the hungover Conor for Steo and Brian Cullen pushed on to centre forward.  Good work from Conor led to his shot being handled on the line for a peno.   After much arsing about from the ref, he asked me should he be sent off!!!   Without hesitation, I said of course he should.

Mick’s comment that I shouldn’t have done this was the straw that broke my back and I angrily told Stan where to go, their manager said something smart as well and I was steaming.  What is the point of organising a match if it’s not going to be done correctly?  If one of us had done it I would expect a red card and I was pissed off that the ref hadn’t the cop-on/balls/competence whatever to do what he should have done instantly and not engage in all this farting about.  Anyway, Cullen put away the peno for 3-2 and that was the end of that farce.

After I took possession from Des’ throw, I played in Dec down the right channel, Dec put over a lovely cross and Raftie’s head made it 4-2 and Dec made it 5 soon after with a forty yard lob after the keeper had advanced to foil Brian Cullen.  Dec’s getting in the goals lately and is getting better in his general play, so I’m delighted with him so far, he’ll be missed in September for 2 weeks.

The game petered out and we handed them 2 goals near the end, to emphasise again our questionable attitude to the day, with one or two obvious exceptions.  As the final whistle goes, I make sure to get to the dressing room first and though I’m still pissed off at our efforts today, I make the point that it’s the first time in almost two years managing that I’ve had to lose the head.  So a quick reminder is all that’s required today, what happened on the pitch was unacceptable but it’s gone now and let’s make sure we’re back to where we usually are next week for the League kick-off.  Conor has hopefully learned that Saturday nights on the beer are no longer accepted in this club.  Time will tell, he did well when he came on and it would be a shame if he sold himself short because of the beer.

A game not dissimilar I suppose to last season’s 2-5 defeat to Drumcondra in terms of attitude, we all know what happened afer that.  And we won today, weird and wonderful game.

 

14/8/01, training.

With the 2nds playing a friendly and using Richie Lombard and Karl, there wasn’t many of my lads training, meself, Gar, Dec, Mick, Ferg and Raftie.  Karl got through the 90, we’ll see Thursday if there’s any reaction, but Richie took a knock and again it’s a case of wait and see.  I signed a Brazilian who watched the game on Sunday, thankfully the game didn’t put him off.  He’s quick and very skilful as you’d expect and mad keen but he’s only here for a month or so, but I’ll take him on Sunday as sub.  His name’s Agusto.

 

16/8/01, training.

Last one before kick off, 18 down, good session with plenty of running and a lively game.  With the news that Karl and Richie Lombard are out of Sunday, I’ve some worries over numbers, but the later news that the seconds game is off sorts that out for me.  So Richie O’Loughlin will join Augusto and one other as subs.  So the team line up for the first league game will be Des, Mick, Mark, John (capt), Gar; Phe, Fergal, Dec, Bullie; Brian and Raftie.  Packed with experience, considering our injuries and Denis being away, it’s not a bad team to start with.  We’re ready for it.

 

THE LEAGUE CAMPAIGN BEGINS

 

19/8/01, first league game, IGB 2, Terenure College 6.

A solid and committed performance eventually proved too much against an ageing but dangerous IGB side.  Our superior fitness was a factor and I’m delighted at the fitness level we showed, but we were relentless in our hunger to scrap and graft and once we started getting better quality ball to the front two in the second half, the chances came and more importantly they were taken.

After a promising start we went behind as usual.  A corner on their left to the far post and the 6 steamed in to head past Des.  As usual again though, we didn’t stay behind long and Ferg ghosted past a player and played Raftie in, he rounded the keeper to score from a tight angle.  The goal king is back.  A tight first half ended 1-1 as we too easily wasted our pass in the final third and we knew we had to do better there.

At half time, I felt IGB would run out of steam, so it was imperative we got the next goal.  I missed a glorious chance after sprinting 50 yards to get on the end of Brian’s pull back and Raftie was shoved in the goalmouth as he prepared to head in Brian’s cross, but referee John Molloy missed it.  Near the hour mark we got that crucial goal, a nice move from the back ended with me crossing to Raftie and though he lost control of it, Bullie was in support at the far post and he prodded in from 6 yards.  Minutes later it was 3, Bullie won a tackle as he did all day, Ferg went past 2 players beautifully and slipped Raftie in for his second.  Great goal, it was also the 100th League goal since I became manager, 100 in 33 games.  Number four followed soon again as we steamrolled them as they tired.  Dec ran 30 yards to charge down their keeper’s clearance and the ball fell nicely for Brian who walked it in to the net for a deserved goal for his terrific work rate all day.  He went off soon after as his hamstring tightened.

With about 15 left, Des’ kick out was headed on by Dec, Raftie was in but pulled back, the ref spotted this one and Raftie completed his hat-trick for 5-1.  After Dec gave away a peno for 5-2, I brought in Augusto and Richie (Steo had replaced Brian) for meself and a bloodied Dec.  Steo did well and helped set up Raftie for a brilliant solo goal and 6-2 sealed an impressive second half display.

I’m very pleased with the start, fitness was good, attitude spot on and some very good stuff in the second half, but I believe Tuesday night will be a different story.  Still it stretches our unbeaten League run to 19 games of which 15 have been wins.

 

Monday, 20/8/01

Bullie’s 90% certain to miss tomorrow due to a number of knocks he took yesterday, so I’ll start Owen Keating instead, he’ll balance the left side nicely and he knows what’s expected.  Shame for Bullie, he was outstanding  yesterday.  Ferg will probably be a little late, so it will be a messy start tomorrow, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

 

21/8/01, league game, Meath Rangers 5, Terenure College 0.

Nothing went right for us tonight, Ferg missed the start as expected and when he did come on after 15 minutes he turned his ankle 5 minutes later.  He hobbled on bravely to just on half time but came off.  By then we were 2 down, two shots from outside the box beat Des and it was about all they created.   We had plenty of ball without creating too much and they were ordinary enough, but not having five regulars is going to hurt any team.

I look forward to playing them at home with a full strength team and the number 4’s annoying call of  “Come to Daddy” for every shagging corner in the second half can be firmly rammed up his you know what.  The number 7 can expect a few tackles as well when they return to the College.  As I said, nothing much went right and Gar hobbled off as well so I’m in deep trouble for any sort of team for Sunday or Tuesday and I’ll have to appeal to Roger Mahon to give us a break and postpone the games.

Our Brazilian lad, Augusto Rocha did quite well on the right, some typical pieces of Latin skill, still it must be difficult having so little English, so he did OK, even if he didn’t think so himself.  So the unbeaten run had to end sometime, I’d have preferred to have lost it with our best XI, but one can’t be greedy and we’ve been lucky enough with injuries etc for too long I suppose.

 

22/8/01

Rang Roger Mahon, the League Secretary but he’s unable to accommodate us despite our decimated squad.  So we’ll just have to get a squad together, don’t feel sorry for ourselves and hope we can grind out results from Sunday and Tuesday.

 

26/8/01, league game, Aer Lingus 0, Terenure College 1.

Having scrambled 13 players together for today, it’s not long before I’m already down to 12, as by 10.20 Conor hasn’t shown up.  This is the second and last time it has happened, it was a big chance for him to make a mark but I really don’t need this.  So Dec Fitz is my only sub.

The first half is a scrappy, tight affair, Des made an excellent early save, but we competed very well and Raftie dropping into midfield gave us a little more protection in that sector and he was still able to get forward in support after starting too deep early on.  The closest we came to scoring was a volley from Owen, which took a deflection and struck the post.  Our injury crisis deepened after 37 when Brian pulled his hamstring as he attempted to go for goal.  Dec replaced him on 44.

Aer Lingus are a poor side and we weren’t exactly testing them, but we did pick it up second half as Mick’s move to midfield to accommodate Dec started to take effect.  Raftie went close a couple of times and Dec Brady almost converted Mark’s nice through ball.  My old friend in black, the “level is offside” ref, showed he still is inept at offside as he blew against us time and again for incorrect offside calls and my frustration was brewing (he also only played 35 minutes first half).   As we moved to the last 5 minutes, he twice got calls horribly  wrong and I snapped.  “You’re not looking around you”, I barked and he ambled over to take my name etc.  He then told me he was sending me off for it, even though I’d not even got a yellow!  So I gave him me name and turned to walk off.  “I’m only winding you up, it’s a yellow for you” he said.  What a complete fruitcake, but I was still relieved it was only a yellow.  From their free Mark headed clear to me and I passed towards Mick, who had to stretch to win the ball.  Won it he did and Clank lofted it over the defence towards Raftie.  The keeper looked favourite but Raftie’s giant strides got him there first as he rounded the keeper to squeeze the ball inside the far post from the tightest of angles, 1-0 after 87 minutes, Raftie does it again, his 450th goal for the club.  What an achievement.

That was it, I put Augusto clear in injury time but the ref blew for time as Augusto prepared to shoot.  Typical piece of utter rubbish from the ref.  Three vital points and given all the circumstances, I’m very pleased.  It was a poor game but no matter, a win is a win.  I’ll have John back for Tuesday.

 

28/8/01, Newtown Rangers 4, Terenure College 0.

No excuses for the above result tonight, we had a fairly strong XI with Bullie fit after all to start, John came into midfield and Dec Fitz kept his place.  First half we did OK after conceding a jammy goal on 10 minutes, we competed well and carved out some good situations.  Bullie, Raftie and Richie all went close and the best we had was John’s free which was very well saved.  So I was very upbeat at half-time and really expected us to get an equaliser and go from there.

When they got reduced to 10 for retaliation on Dec Brady I should have taken some action with the formation but minutes later Gar dived in rashly and they scored from the peno for 2-0.  We then lost all our first half shape in midfield and took wrong option after wrong option in possession as Raftie and particularly Richie were starved of decent ball.  We were a shambles second half to be honest and 4-0 was an accurate enough result in the end.  We must get back to our strengths Sunday and I won’t accept defeatist talk which was going on immediately after the final whistle tonight.  As I said above, there are no excuses.

 

2/9/01, league game, Pegasus 2, Terenure College 2

We’re not playing with any confidence at the moment.  Despite taking a deserved early lead through a Bullie 20 yarder that surprised the keeper, we were unable to build on it or kill them off.  They are another very ordinary side and we should be able to get 3 points off the likes of these, but as well as the confidence we’re so lacking in a creative player in midfield and it’s hindering us greatly.

Augusto showed some real quality today and it was his best game for us to date, he now hopes to stay till February if he can get some work.  I hope so, he’s a smashing lad and he’s getting to grips with Irish Junior Soccer as well as can be expected.  He’s surprised at what the refs let go here!  But back to the game, we conceded a soft second midway through the 2nd half but we battled back and kept trying, Raftie hit a post after excellent play by Augusto and Des made a super save near the end to keep us in it.  Inside the last 5 Mick drove a half cleared ball across the face of goal and Raftie swept it in for 2-2 which was deserved.  I was pleased that we didn’t throw in the towel, we just need that bit extra in the middle, Ferg should give us that next week as he’s due back after his injury.

 

9/9/01, league game, Cherryfield 1, Terenure College 7

I missed this game and training all week due to illness, so Raftie took the squad and picked the side with Anto starting at right back, Mick in midfield beside Ferg and Richie back up front with Augusto on the right.  The changes paid off handsomely against admittedly poor opposition, but Raftie said the attitude was good and it was a good performance.  Richie and Mick both grabbed 3, Raftie the other and seemingly Richie was back to something like his best form which is great news and it’s good to have Ferg back.

Two new lads got runs as subs, Kieran Murray and Dave Flood and I look forward to meeting them during the week and seeing them in action.  I’m very pleased at the result and the number of goals scored and with the new lads and Denis due back next week, I think we’ve turned the corner and we have three weeks before our next league game, so 3-1-2 after 6 aways is not a bad return after everything that’s been thrown at us to date.

 

16/9/01, Leinster Junior Cup, Hamilton 6, Terenure College 0.

With my own health still not 100%, I haven’t trained this week and late cry offs from Anto (Christening (his own as someone asked?)) and Augusto (sick all week) meant I’m throwing a squad together for a game yet again.   The continuity and settled look of last season has been non-existent and the above result more or less a certainty.

Newcomers Kieran and Dave got starts and Dave impressed me well enough at left back, at last I have a left footed player for left back and he’ll give us balance there and once he gets fitter will be a fine addition to the team.  Kieran did fine also and is also left footed, these left footers are like Anto’s buses, two arrive at once after a long wait.  Rob Stanley slotted in at right midfield after being persuaded to turn up by Mick, he put in a good 70 minutes and Gary replaced him.  As I left me boots in the College I was praying no-one else would get injured in the game. 

The result itself is a bit harsh on us, we matched them well for 35 minutes but we failed to close down a player and he scored from 23 yards and their second just before half time was a real kick in the teeth for us.  We battled away, but Raftie was reported missing and we found him in the Hamilton centre half’s pocket when the final whistle went, what chances we had were few and far between.  The 3rd goal finished the contest and they took their other goals well.

As  I said, the messy team selection helped this result with four of last week’s eleven missing (Anto, Bullie, Augusto and Ferg), our next game is two weeks from now when we’ll also have Dec Brady back after his holidays.  We should be back in business for our next game. On the minus side John played his last game for us this season as he has College commitments from now on.  Shame his last game resulted thus.

Second’s drew 2-2 today from 2 down, they played some good stuff with Ollie and Gavin getting the goals.  Their first win is imminent without doubt.

It’s been a harrowing week this week with the terrorist attacks in the States and all games this weekend had a minute’s silence as a mark of respect to the thousands who died so horrifically.  We are lucky indeed to be able to enjoy a game of ball almost every Sunday and our daily moans and groans are so bloody insignificant now.  May God be good to all those poor innocent souls and their families and friends.

 

25/9/01, training

Good turnout, good session ahead of a big game Sunday against Alpine.  I will have at least 14 to choose from with Denis back and though I’m without Mark, I got a call later from John saying he could help me out, so that’s good news.  Also good news is that Karl got the all clear to start training again, the specialist says his knee is still very strong and his problems are wear and tear from over the years.  It’s what we all wanted to hear and I hope to have Karl available for selection in two to three weeks.

 

30/9/01, league game, Terenure College 3, Alpine Express 2

I had my strongest starting XI to date for our first home league game of the campaign.  These beat us here in the Cup 5-4 last season and only 6 of our team that day were playing today, Des, Denis, Mick, Dec, Raftie and Richie, so I was very hopeful of a better result today.

“The season starts now”, were my first words before we went out and I stressed the need for early urgency and being competitive early and far up the pitch when we lost the ball.  That’s certainly how it panned out as we started very brightly playing at a good tempo and passing it well.  They were passing it well too and had made better chances before we scored first on 24 minutes.

Dave intercepted a loose ball on our box and played it square to Gar who knocked it early ahead to Denis. Denis didn’t waste any time either and knocked a searching ball down the line for Richie to chase.  Richie made up about 3 yards on the full back and whipped in a near post ball which Raftie volleyed over the despairing keeper for a marvellous goal.    It was to be the only goal of a very open half but sadly we lost Dave to a hamstring injury on 37 and Richie’s ankle kept him out of the second 45.  I replaced Dave, switching Denis back to left back and Brian came in for Rich.

We started the second half poorly and within a minute, the ref decided Mick had held the Alpine player when a cross came into the box.  Peno.  Their lad struck it well, to Des’ left, but Des made a great save to push it away and Denis completed the escape.  We had some good situations to make it 2-0 but they got their equaliser before long and they deserved it, a fine header following a corner we conceded sloppily. 

Our second half to date was ordinary and they got a second after about 65, the lad got behind Denis, possibly offside and beat Des.  The ref had blown us up every time for offside and now he kept his whistle quiet and I freaked, earning a yellow card.  We regrouped though and didn’t chuck it in, though Dec and Ferg were tiring.  With 10 left, Raftie headed on a long ball, Brian got a break to beat the defender and finished in style to make it 2-2.

With two minutes left, John’s long throw on the right was flicked on at the near post by Mick and Raftie wrong footed the stranded keeper with an audacious overhead kick to give us the lead and ultimately the points.  I was delighted to get out with a win, though they probably shaded it, we never gave up especially midway in the second half when we were really struggling and the spirit was more like it was last season, guts and never-say-die got us through as three or four of the lads are not as fit as they need to be.  But we’re back in the hunt and unbeaten at home in the League now for 19 games.

 

2/10/01, training.

Great turnout.  Dave Flood won’t be fit for the weekend and Richie’s away and John gone, so I’ll bring Kieran Murray, Darren Frehill, Ger Breen and Colm Costello into the squad.  Darren gets the left back berth, balance is paramount and he has a good left foot and good attitude so I’m sure he’ll be able for what’s needed.

 

7/10/01, league game, Walkinstown 5, Terenure College 2.

Scorelines usually tell their own story but this one totally distorts the reality.  We handed them a three goal half-time lead with three terrible goals and left ourselves far too much to do and despite playing some of our best ball of the season in the second 45, it was too much of a mountain to climb.

Goals dictate games and had their keeper not touched Raftie’s header onto the bar early on, the direction of the game would have been utterly different.  Shortly afterwards, we half cleared their first corner, a weak enough shot came back in, hit Des’ shoulder and dropped inside the far post.  From another half cleared corner, we were again slow to the breakdown and a misdirected shot was headed in at the far post for poxy goal number 2.  We were playing some good stuff and their full backs were very ordinary, but we weren’t getting the breaks they did.  After about 35, a long ball saw their fellow given too much room and his 22 yard shot deflected off new captain Mark and looped up over a stranded Des for the third.

After half an hour I’d decided on two half time changes, Colm and Kieran for meself and Bullie.  I’d flitted in and out and Bullie’s just not himself lately and the two lads will freshen it up.  Kieran exploded out of the blocks and produced a very impressive 45 minutes, playing himself into the starting XI for next week, as we tore them apart down the left, making but not converting chances.  Raftie struck the underside of the bar as we attempted to claw back the deficit; on 60 mintues Ferg’s mishit shot was smashed in on the turn by Raftie.  It was imperative we got a second soon, but they killed us off with yet another giveaway.

A corner on the left for them and a near post header from the unmarked player gave Des no chance.  It was so frustrating after our total second half dominance, our reactions to defensive danger was terrible today.  Raftie reduced the deficit to 2-4 after 83 minutes after Mick’s great ball had released the flying Kieran to square to the big fella, but just on full time a long ball over our three man defence (Gar had limped off reducing us to 10 as I’d also brought on Ger for Dec) saw their bloke round Des and tap in for 5-2 and a harsh scoreline.

As I said we just had too much to make up second half and though we did play well second half, we did also persist too much with high crosses from good positions, we never got Brian involved by playing it low to his feet and we need to vary it more in the final third.  I was pleased with Darren’s 90 minutes, though he did tire, he gave us similar balance to what Dave was giving us last few games and he linked up very well with Kieran.  If we tighten up our set piece defensive work and react quicker to second balls, we’ll still have a major say in this league.

 

12/10/01

Des rang me to say he’s got a new job in England starting Monday week, so Sunday will be his last game of the season.  He’ll be missed greatly, since coming back into the team last March, he showed great consistency and concentration. The home game last season against Tymon which we won 3-2 was his first league game with me as manager and his performance that day ensured we took all 3 points instead of dropping what would have been a crucial two points.  So thanks Des and the very best of luck.  Stay angry!

 

14/10/01, league game.  St. Joseph’s Boys 0, Terenure College 2.

Our 8th away league game out of 9 in total and far and away our best performance against a physical and useful Joey’s.

We were under a lot of early pressure but our defence handled it very well and our defensive performance laid the foundation for us to grab two goals before half time, which boosted the performance level all round the pitch.  Again despite a lot of Joey’s possession second half, we tackled all day, won so many 50/50s and utterly frustrated them.  Al (back in the team after a last minute absence from Des) hadn’t really any notable saves to make, while we struck the woodwork twice in the second half through Bullie and Raftie.

The goals came within 5 minutes of each other midway through the first half.  Following a good move up the left between Dec, Raftie and Kieran, we got a free-kick.  Darren swung it in with good pace to the far post and Dec Brady steamed in to bundle it over the line.  We were a little flattered, but the goal gave us a huge lift.   Minutes later, Denis cut in from the right, played in a nice early ball to Raftie who stroked it into the far corner with his right foot from 16 yards for a lovely goal.

The balance of the team was impressive today, on the right Gar and Denis combined very well defensively and going forward, with Denis making some great runs and getting in good crosses.  On the other side, Darren and Kieran were excellent, giving us options we haven’t had all season and I was delighted with that.  Down the centre, meself and Dec covered acres of ground, Dec was back to his bionic best today and I was happy with my 65 or so minutes before giving Karl his long awaited first appearance of the season.  Mick and Mark were immense at the back, competing, tackling expertly and concentrating for the 90 minutes.  Mark got a red card on 88 minutes for his second yellow, he took their player down in a dangerous position, so he had to do it and had to go.

So a great boost for us today, Karl’s back and should be OK for a starting place next week, Ferg is also available and hopefully Richie, so there is fierce competition now for places and some lads are going to be frustrated over the coming weeks.  That’s how all successful teams need to be with strength in depth, though I could do with an extra option at centre back, but I’m getting greedy now.  Roll on next game, we’re up and running again.

 

21/10/01, league game, Black Forge 2, Terenure College 4

With Karl and Fergal both again available, I have the very difficult decision to leave Denis out, he got better last week as the game wore on, but I just can’t find a place for him today.  He’s very disappointed as one would expect, wondering why he’s dropped, but I explain later that I haven’t dropped him, merely that I can’t fit him in with Karl and Ferg starting.

We know what to expect from Forge as we go out, they’ll be physical and tough, but I didn’t expect the gift we got after 60 seconds when the left back played a ball right into Raftie’s path and as usual Raftie made no mistake to give us a great start.  We built on the early goal, playing with great sharpness and urgency, Kieran and Ferg out wide were giving Forge all sorts of problems.  Kieran was twice or three times unlucky with shots and Raftie headed just wide from Mark’s far post cross.

The deserved second arrives on 22 minutes, Kieran won a great header and Raftie is pulled down bearing in on goal.  After much dissent from Forge, Raftie keeps cool and rolls in the peno for 2-0 and we’re in total control.  Their only  threat is at corners and frees and we’re conceding too many frees which is worrying me.  After 35 minutes another free on the left is drilled in low and Mick’s outstretched leg beats Al all ends up and they’re back in the game when we should have it sewn up.  2-1 at the break.

At half time I just say we’re making life difficult for ourselves with the frees and after a great start, we’re wasting possession too easily, once we get those sorted again we’ll be fine as Forge are a bit of a mess and fighting with themselves and the ref.  Sure enough we start the second half better and Ferg is doing his stuff big time today, a fine run ends with a fine effort from Brian tipped over by the keeper.  With Bullie and Denis ready to come on, we get a third after 65 minutes, poor defensive play lets in Brian who should have scored, but Raftie makes no mistake when the ball breaks to him for his second hat trick of the season.

We cruise through the next 15 minutes or so, Karl has got better as the game wore on but we give away a soft goal with 8 minutes left and again they have a chance to get something from a game we’ve dominated.  Denis is on for a tiring Karl and makes an immediate impact heading across the goalmouth for Raftie to stab in for 4-2 and finally seal the points.  Sadly Mick’s knee gives way as he sprints for a loose ball and he is carried off in agony.  I fear a lengthy lay-off for Stan and my fears of a lack of cover in centre back has materialised.  Awful for Mick as he’s been playing tremendously well again.

Apart from Mick’s injury, I’m delighted with the result and level of performance.  We were hungry and sharp for the most part and reduced them to a shambles at times.  There’s a real balance to the side now, Darren and Kieran down the left getting better every game, Darren gave his best game in the team to date.  So we’re on a roll again and we’ve two weeks to the next game, Confey away.  Our record is now 7-1-3, halfway  through already, there’s loads to aim for in the remainder of the season.

 

28/10/01, run out at Astro Park.

11 of us had a decent hour’s game of “girlie football” (Raftie’s term).  There was some good girlie football too, competitive and plenty of arguments as to whether the ball was inside or outside the scoring D.  The fact that I grabbed five was an indication of the sparkling girlie play that went on in warm sunshine.  A very enjoyable hour.

 

4/11/01, league game, Confey 6, Terenure College 2

We were punished 4 or 5 times today for handing out bags of scoring chances and while I accept the defeat, I can’t accept our generosity 30 yards and less from our own goal.

I was really sure we could get something today, despite being without Mick, we were strong everywhere selection wise and prepared very well with Bullie, the returning Richie and me as subs.  Karl went in to centre back, Ferg in beside Dec and Denis returning wide right. 

We started slowly enough as did they, but 10 minutes in we twice failed to clear our lines and Gar didn’t heed Al’s call.  Gar’s mishit clearance left Al in no man’s land and their fella shot into an empty goal for a shite goal.  5 minutes later more indecisiveness saw their bloke get in behind Darren and shoot under Al for another soft goal.  2 down early doors, I was steaming.   We were also trying the killer ball a bit too often as we sought to get back in the game and Raftie missed a couple of chances.  After about 25, Mark dived in un-necesarrily in the box and a cast-iron peno, but Al made a great save to his left to keep our interest going.  After 35, Ferg found Raftie with a lovely ball and Raftie lobbed over the keeper for a deserved goal.  We’d done better last 15 of the half and Kieran Murray was causing trouble when he got to take on the full back, but we’d not got  him involved half enough.

At the break, I stressed we were very much alive but the soft goals had to go and the impossible balls had to give way to more simple football.  But goals dictate the course of games and a free 25 yards out for them after 46 minutes  bent and flew past a bemused Al to give them control again.  It still wasn’t over and when Raftie’s header was miraculously taken off the line and Denis had a close range shot blocked we conceded a controversial fourth to sink us.  Karl was harshly adjudged to have a foot high and from the free, Darren almost had his head taken off with an even higher foot.  Ref Sean Murtagh allowed play go and as I turned away the ball looped over Al off one our lads and that was that.

Soon after Darren saw red after their 9 kicked Karl yet again, Darren raced 15 yards to smack him one and the inevitable red card appeared for Darren.  A fifth and sixth followed as our spirits sank and not even Denis’ late goal could compensate a disastrous day for us.

So to sum up today, we helped our own downfall in a big way with the goals conceded and losing our composure at crucial moments.  Also losing Karl’s influence in midfield is a big minus and I will not play him in defence again, not because he did badly, but he’s such a force in midfield.  After much thinking and talking to the likes of Karl, Darren, Gar and Sparky, I won’t go for a 3 at the back, it’s too dangerous, so I hope to push Darren in to centre half and I’ll ask Denis to revert to last season’s left back spot, allowing Karl back to normal with Ferg wide and Dec in beside Karl giving us our formidable midfield back.  A performance to quickly put down as one of those days, but we’re certainly losing our games in style this season, 0-5, 0-4, 2-5 and 2-6. 

 

5/11/01

Darren emailed me to say sorry for losing his rag yesterday for his second dismissal of the campaign (1 for the 2nds).  He has endeavoured to end his temper flare-ups by volunteering to wash the kit for the rest of the season if it happens again.  We’ll see…..

 

11/11/01, league game, Terenure College 2, St.Joseph’s Boys 2

Will Kearney and Richie O’Loughlin were called in as cover with Brian and Ferg missing, but I’d a strong XI and I was confident of a good display and three points.

We gave a good display alright and created many chances, indeed I can’t remember a game where we created so many good situations, but our finishing was a bit hurried and we didn’t punish them.

Joey’s could have scored within ten seconds however as a runner waltzed through a square back four and Darren had to make a crucial saving tackle, but we quickly started to play some wonderful stuff, especially out wide as I had asked them to do.  Kieran was murdering the right full and put over several wonderful crosses from incisive running and sheer skill, but Richie (twice) and Dec were unlucky.  Richie was also put through with a lovely ball from Raftie but he blazed over.  Then Karl played in Bullie on the right (who’d also made a great start), but Bullie’s well struck shot went wide.  Raftie gave him that stare, but  Bullie had to shoot in that position.

After 21 minutes though they cleared an attack and their lad lofted a shot over a stranded Al to give them a totally unjust lead and when they scored a second on 41, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Al made a stunning tip onto the bar from a 25 yarder, the ball bounced down, hit the fallen Al on the head and rebounded in.  Sickener.

Credit to the lads though as usual, we didn’t lie down and a 25 yard free was awarded.  Karl who’d earlier forced the keeper to scramble a save, left this for Denis who struck it beautifully;  it struck the base of the post and rebounded in off their keeper to put us back in the game.  That was the least we deserved from a half we dominated.

We vowed to track the runners who were making things uncomfortable in the first half, that was our only worry and from kick off Bullie’s run and cross might have been converted by Richie.  A minute later though after Kieran’s header was well saved for a corner, Denis swung in the corner, Dec got a knock down and Raftie rifled home from 10 yards to level.  I thought we’d go on and win now, but play got scrappy for about 20 minutes as Kieran drifted out.  At the back though we looked secure and I was happy with Mark and Darren’s first game as centre-back partners.

We again continued to make the better chances and a wonderful cross from Denis was headed on by Raftie and I couldn’t believe it when Richie’s header drifted wide of the far post.  It summed up Richie’s luck today and I know he’ll get more breaks another day.

So we had to settle for 2-2, no injuries and the game was too tight to make any changes.  I was happy with everyone’s 90, Bullie made an excellent return to the starting XI, Darren though shattered did well at centre half, Denis outstanding back at left full and his dead ball ability an added bonus if Karl is out or struggling.  D doesn’t lack confidence which is great.  So we keep our unbeaten home League record, 20 games (13 wins 7 draws), but draws will bring us back to mid-table if we’re not ruthless enough in our next games.

Also today, a number of us ventured out to Clondalkin to watch the 2nds.  They were most unlucky to lose 2-3 in the last minute having also battled back from 0-2, Ger and Donal O’Brien scoring.  What was notable from my point of view was Darren’s ordering off the park by ref Noel Blake!!  And Darren wasn’t even bloody playing!  Will Darren now wash the second team kit for the season?  He’s a legend already.

 

16/11/01

Congratulations to Mick McCarthy and the Irish squad who qualified for the World Cup last night, a superb achievement given the lack of real quality international players at Mick’s disposal.  We have a summer of football to look forward to. 

Karl hasn’t trained this week, his back was at him during last week’s game and it hasn’t improved all week, so he’s a serious doubt now.  So I’ll need to pull in a 2nds body for cover if he hasn’t improved by tomorrow (Saturday).  Shame for Karl, it’s one injury after another this season.

 

18/11/01, league game, Alpine Express 4, Terenure College 3

Karl hasn’t recovered, so I’m changing central midfield by bringing in Ger to partner Fergal and Dec steps down today.  Brian just keeps Richie at bay for the second front spot.

It’s been a frustrating and inconsistent away season which we finished today with a record of 5-1-5 and the goals we’ve given away far outnumber the goals our opponents had to earn.  Take the first today, a throw in to the area, we allowed a fellow to evade three of us and get a shot in which Alec saved superbly, Denis half cleared it, a mishit shot hits the post and the rebound gobbled up from 2 yards.  Typical of our away displays this season.  To be fair, we’ve hit straight back from kick-off, Bullie earning a free.  Darren takes it quickly to Gar who makes ground and his cross reaches Raftie who swivels and buries it past a bemused keeper for 1-1.  Gar hobbled off after 40 and I replaced him.  Moments later, I’ve 2 on 1 my side and the square ball is well finished for another soft enough goal.

We’ve played well in flashes first half, but Kieran is getting no decent ball on a very narrow pitch and Denis is in one of his darker humours.  Ger is doing OK in the role I asked him to play, but Alpine are getting tight and the pitch is awkward.

20 minutes in the second half, I pick up a loose ball and a gap appears.  I push it through and charge into the box and just as someone shouts “Shoot”, I’ve already squared it to open the angle, Ger leaves it and Brian calmly rolls it into an empty net for 2-2 and game on again.  Thank Christ I didn’t shoot.

Though we’re level we’re still not quite managing to control the game, Bullie is playing ever so well on the right, but it’s still not happening on the other side and Ferg is flitting in and out.  With less than 20 left, we give the ball away 40 yards from goal and another couple of half hearted clearances later a 25 yard shot flicks Denis and an unsighted Al can’t stop us going behind again.  Sickener.  With 9 left, a harmless looking cross gets in behind Darren and though Al makes a great save, the same lad scores from the rebound.

It’s still not over and as I call for one more effort, 2 mins later, Raftie is shoved after a great ball from Bullie and the big fella scores the peno for his 20th of the season.  Just before time, yet another long throw from Darren lands at Denis’ feet 6 yards out but the keeper makes a great save to deny us a point we probably didn’t deserve.  Another frustrating away day and three without a win, we have to keep plugging away and I’m still convinced we can keep our great home record intact with 8 consecutive home League games left and the two cups of course.

 

25/11/01, Terenure College v Newtown postponed

Due to an emergency referee meeting about disciplinary dealings, all LSL games for Sunday were off.  It was no harm as we hadn’t seen Kieran, Bully or Ferg training all week and Karl’s back is still not right and Gar picked up a stress fracture last week on his foot.  So though I was confident as usual, realistically we’d have been probably struggling.  We had a kickabout in the Astro Park and it was pretty dire stuff, admittedly too many were playing as we had to condense to one pitch as four bodies let us down.  The attitude from both teams to training lately has dipped and I aim to put it right during the week, or else we’ll both slip into bad habits and mid-table also-rans at best.

 

29/11/01, training.

We put in two good enough sessions this week; we addressed timekeeping on Tuesday and the response tonight was good and everyone worked hard.  I’m down Bullie who got injured on Tuesday, Karl’s still out with his back but he’ll train next week, Gar’s out till the New Year and Darren’s working, so I’ll be starting on Sunday as will Ger again.  The refs are back in action as well, so I’m looking forward to the Black Forge game.  Forge rang Gus earlier, alleging half of them are down with flu and looking for a postponement, but I’m not buying that old line.  I’d half a team earlier in the season and we had to get on with it;  they’re probably going on the rip, I hope they are.

 

2/12/01, league game, Terenure College 2, Black Forge 1

So much for their flu epidemic, they had 3 subs to our 2, as Steve Copeland didn’t show.  I felt very confident of a win today with Dec and Ger in the crucial central midfield spots and Ferg and Kieran hopefully getting round the full backs.

We started brightly enough, though they were getting the foot in as expected, fairly sometimes, late other times but to be fair to referee Dermot Kelly he wasn’t missing much and he proved to be the best ref we’ve had all season.  Dec slammed a 20 yarder off the bar after 10 minutes and Richie’s rebound just went wide.  Dec’s effort was the start of an outstanding performance from him; soon after that his header from Ger’s corner again hit the bar and we couldn’t convert the scramble that followed.

Following another corner for us, we went behind totally against the play.  They cleared it and suddenly it was two v two.  The ball was played behind Dave and as I came across to try slow the player down, Al had dashed out 40 yards;  their lad rounded Al and I couldn’t get there in time as he rolled the ball in from the edge of the box. It was their first chance.  Things got sloppy for us and we weren’t getting Kieran the ball at all and they were creating nothing.  A minute before half time, yet another corner was half cleared to me and as the defence rushed out, I dinked it over the top to Raftie who chested it down, rounded the keeper and squeezed home from the tightest of angles for a deserved equaliser.

It was vital we grabbed that goal back before HT and once we kept our heads and started getting the ball wide, I was sure we’d get the win.  Richie was a bit out of sorts and I brought in Brian after an hour as we pushed for the second.  Kieran was getting more joy second half, but his crossing today was disappointing, he knows he can do better.  It was looking like we wouldn’t get the goal our dominance deserved, but with about 5 left I picked up a loose ball and played it to Ferg who quickly played in Brian down the inside right channel.  Brian sent in a fine cross and Raftie’s header was spilled by the keeper and Denis once again showed great timing and positioning to slide in the winner from six yards.  We had one or two more chances before time but Raftie for once made a bit of a hash of them.  We held on easily to get a deserved win and 21 league games unbeaten at the College.

Some good points from the performance, Dave Flood slotted in well beside Mark and got through the 90 without injury; Ger did very well in beside Dec who was definitely man of the match.  Brian gave me the now weekly headache for the second front spot and I was happy enough with my first 90 minute game in over 3 months.  So with Darren back for next week and Karl pushing for a shirt, we should be in ok shape for next week’s cup game against Hartstown, though Ferg will be missing due to work.  So a good day for us and a nice double over our old rivals Forge.

 

6/12/01, training.

Build up to the Watt Cup game against Hartstown hasn’t been the best, Ferg, Richie, Karl and Gar all unavailable, but Bullie’s ok for a sub spot, but it still means I’ll have to take two off Fergus.  We’ll have to be at our best, this shower won’t be easy but I’m totally determined for us to have a right crack at the two Cups.  Darren will be back in at left back allowing Denis to take Ferg’s right midfield spot.

 

9/12/01, Tommy Watt Cup, Hartstown 4, Terenure College 3.

As I said above, we hadn’t a great build up and it got worse as Ger was forced to miss out at 9.05 this morning, so I had to ask Bullie to start and moved Denis in to centre midfield.

We started badly, second to everything and their left winger was giving me a torrid time for the first half hour.  They went ahead after about 15 minutes, I should have put a ball into touch as I slid in on the 11, but I failed to deal with it and the 11 got the cross in, it was half cleared and their bloke followed up to score from 12 yards.  It was a deserved lead for them.  It took us an awful long time to settle and our equaliser right on the 45 was flattering for us.  Great cross wide on the left from Darren and Raftie rose to glance it into the far corner.

Our tails were up following that goal and the first 15 minutes of the second half was where we should have won this tie.  In the opening minutes of the half, Bullie’s nicely floated free let in Raftie, his shot was blocked, and mishits from Denis and Dec ended with Raftie heading in for 2-1 to us.  Our play improved but soon after we let them in the game again after our offside failed.  Their player rounded Al, cut it back and a tap in for 2-2. 

With about 25 to go, another scramble in their area finished with Kieran Murray following up to score right footed and 3-2 to us.  Again though we failed to make any follow up on this boost and within ten minutes we were 4-3 down, again the goals coming down my side.  My head went down after the third and Darren reckoned a few heads did likewise.  The fact that we created very little after that would support his view. We went out with a whimper and I’m very annoyed with myself that this was allowed to happen against an ordinary team who will go out in the next round.  We have no excuses and only ourselves to blame and only the Cullen Cup in the New Year to try and make amends.

 

16/12/01, league game, Terenure College 4, Pegasus 1

Our last league game of the year and I was determined we’d end it on a high note and extend our unbeaten home league run.  Bullie’s knee flared up again after last Sunday so he ruled himself out early in the week, but I’d Ferg back so he started wide right, Denis in at right back for me and Ger returning in centre midfield.

A good start is always what we look for and it’s a while since we got one, but today it happened for us and the first three goals came at just the right times.  The first after just over 10 minutes, Ger floated a corner in from the left, Raftie rose to challenge and when the ball dropped free, Ferg charged in and slammed it in from 10 yards for his first of the season.  Right from the kick off though, Pegasus got in behind Denis and Al made a simply stunning save low to his right and set the tone for a brilliant performance between the sticks.

There was an excellent tempo to the game and they came to play as I expected.  Ferg should have had his second when his cross from way out on the right dropped in over the keeper but Raftie had mouthed something and ref John Kavanagh disallowed it.  Whatever about him disallowing that one, he got it hopelessly wrong after half an hour when Ger’s corner again on the left was met with a fine header by Raftie, but Mr. Kavanagh decided he’d fouled the keeper.  To my eyes, there wasn’t any contact, but it wasn’t long before one did count.

Right on the blow of half time, another corner this time on the right was taken by Denis.  It was cleared only back out to him and Denis drove it back low, Raftie was unmarked and smacked it first time into the far corner with his right peg for a great goal.  As I said we scored at great times.

At half time, we just had to sort the 14 who was making dangerous runs and to pass the ball better.  Dec said he’d sort the 14 and he did expertly as usual in another excellent display from The Terminator.  2 minutes into the second half, Denis wandered from right back and picked up a loose ball in the inside left spot.  After getting the ball back from Kieran, Denis was upended in the box and Raftie rolled in the peno to give us a surely unassailable lead.  Pegs to their credit kept playing and didn’t resort to kicking, we were a bit flattered to be 3 up.  Ferg and Kieran both came off just past the hour, Ferg’s ankle took a knock and Kieran got the ball full in the town halls, so Richie made a welcome return and Brian O’Donoghue filled in admirably for Kieran.

With 20 left, Ger conceded a soft peno but their lad struck the post to Al’s right and Al soon after made another 2 excellent saves and another Pegs effort struck the bar.  We also made chances, Raftie going for glory when I was unmarked in front of goal (I hoped he’d square it rather than expected it, but Cullen’s shout of  “Ya greedy pig” made me laugh); Brian also had a couple of good chances, but it wasn’t his day.  We got the fourth with 10 left, yet another Denis corner was half cleared, Brian O’Donoghue did well and fed Denis again whose excellent far post cross was met by Mark who headed across the goalmouth for Richie to head in from a yard.  Our crossing at set pieces was always dangerous today and Denis and Ger give us great quality there in the still absence of Karl.

Pegs got a deserved goal soon after, much to Al’s disgust, he really deserved a clean sheet today.  So that was it, an impressive performance from us, nobody had a bad or indifferent game, even the 3 subs (I had replaced Ger on 72), so it was an important win with Pegasus having dropped 6 points less than us.  It also meant we’ve completed 2 calendar years unbeaten in the League at home, stretching now to 22 games, 15 wins and seven draws and that is very pleasing.  We’ll have three weeks to the next game at home to high flying Confey, I hope we can start 2002 with a vital win to slow Confey down.  A Happy Christmas to everybody, booze-up Thursday in The Morgue.

As regards the 3B team, Gus has decided to step down from management responsibilities and Sean Doherty  takes full control from now.  We should not forget the tireless and selfless work Fergus has done not only for the 2nd team but the club as a whole and he singlehandedly kept this club afloat when it was on it’s knees.  So thanks Fergus for your dedication and patience to me when I was robbing your players.  He’s an impossible act to follow and the best of luck to Sean for the remainder of  the season.

 

3/1/02, training

Christmas and New Year food and booze still very much in the system, so we put in a good hard enough session.  18 turned up and we were running by 7.30 so I was pleased with that.  For Sunday’s game with Confey I’ll be down Kieran (in Australia till end of January) and Richie Lombard (flu stricken), so Richie O’Loughlin and Padraig O’Dwyer will come into the squad as will Karl whose injuries are hopefully cleared for the remaining games of the season.  Karl won’t start yet, so Ger will keep his place and with Bullie not having done anything since the Cup disaster, he’ll have to be content with a sub spot also, so Padraig will start.  Dave Flood felt a tightening hamstring, so I’m hoping he won’t break down on Sunday, he’s been doing very well at centre back and I need to be at full strength for Confey.  They’re not unbeatable of course.

 

6/1/02, league game, Terenure College 3, Confey 2.

I said previously that if we didn’t win the League that I’d try make damn sure that we’d have a major say in who did win it and that was certainly the case today as we avenged our 2-6 spanking in Leixlip with a great win.  It was a win that was built on a great start and though the league leaders battled back well, we showed a tremendous resolve, great guts and plenty of skill to get our noses in front again and stay there.

As we prepared to go out, I stressed how we’d given them 4 goals out there and it was essential we didn’t give them anything today and it was critical that we scored first as it would be an uphill struggle chasing a game against this team.  They went out first and one could hear their cockiness and it got me really fired up and I sensed our boys were really up for it too.

As Fergal swung over our 3rd corner in only the second minute, Dec’s header floated towards the far post;  Brian ran in to make it hard for the keeper and it worked as the keeper spilled it into the goal for a perfect start for us.  They were a bit shocked at such an early reverse and we went for the throat;  Ferg and Ger were on song, Padraig started really well and my instruction to Dec to take the dangerous 6 was carried out to the letter by the indestructible Dec.  After 25 minutes, it was 2-0 to us.  A great ball from Ferg fully 40 yards inside the full back saw Raftie v the last defender;  Raftie beat him easily and as the keeper advanced, Raftie cooly stuck it under him with his right foot for a great goal.

Confey woke up after this and started to create some dangerous situations but the back four and Al were dealing OK with it and as we approached half time I hoped we wouldn’t concede.  Sadly as a corner for them came over, Ger shoved their lad and ref Dermot Kelly spotted it (as he spotted almost everything all day, he’s the best ref in the League) and the 6 planted the peno past Al.

So 2-1 to us at the break, great first 45 from us, but their 7 and 8 were very dangerous so Padraig and Ger needed to get closer to them as Dec was taking good care of the 6.  Confey started the 2nd half better and we were still on the back foot and after 55 minutes they got the leveller.  A half cleared corner was crossed back in and their 4 rose unmarked to head past a defenceless Al.

Padraig turned an ankle and I came on for him, but though their tails were up, we dug deep and got our game together again as we were determined to protect our unbeaten run at home.  Raftie went close and play was very even.  After their 7 was booked for diving, I took off a tiring Ger and brought Karl on for a welcome return as the fresh legs would hopefully help get us a winner.  With about 20 left, Denis’ 30 yard free was blocked and cleared to Dave.  Dave dinked it to the edge of the area where Dec backheaded on; Brian had stayed onside and the ball dropped nicely to him and he finished beautifully to give us back the lead.

From there on, they had plenty of possession but we harried and tackled and I don’t know where some of our lads found the extra legs and lungs.  Al was also superb punching out some dangerous crosses and holding on under pressure.  They never had any clear cut chances though and they became increasingly desperate.  After a tense finish, Dermot Kelly blew for time and I was delighted as I shook their disappointed Manager’s hand.  Two of them refused to shake hands such was their disgust and I just laughed.

It’s a big scalp we’ve taken and I think we just about deserved it with a performance of great heart and resolve from all 13 used.  I hope we can repeat the dose to the last 5 teams who have to come here and hopefully we can get some momentum now for the Cullen Cup in a few weeks.  We’ve three wins now on the spin and a bit of regularity as regards team selection.  Sadly Brian Cullen’s early fall (though he played on for the 90) later revealed a broken elbow in two places, but at least I’ll have Richie Lombard back, hopefully to finish an injury plagued season for him in style. 

A great start to the New Year and I was very proud of the boys today.

 

10/1/02, training

Not a bad turnout, with us not having a game on Sunday, Sean can take Alec, Dave, Denis, Karl and Darren with Dec as sub.  Karl’s really raring to go and hopefully the lads can help Sean’s team to a much needed win over Trinity.  Sadly Owen Keating turned his ankle badly 5 minutes from the end of the session, putting paid to his game on Sunday.  How easily things can go wrong. 

Also this week Dec Fitzpatrick was forced to call it a day due to personal commitments.  His presence and experience will be missed by the club and he has been a wonderful servant to this club for many many years.  I was always impressed by Dec’s utter passion for whatever team he played for and I know I have picked up some of his knowledge since I was lucky enough to be asked to manage the first team.  So thanks Dec for everything and good luck.

 

13/1/02, 2nd team game, Terenure College 4, Trinity 2.

With my lads having an idle weekend, it was a chance for Karl to get a full game under his belt with the cup looming and our hopes for third place very much alive.  So Sean started Karl, Dec, Raftie, Denis, Al and meself.  I was a late inclusion with Keith withdrawing.

It was an enjoyable game, we went behind twice in the opening half hour, replying quickly each time through you-know-who after typical Karl assists.  Right on half time, Karl floated a free from the left and Will Kearney volleyed very well to the net at the far post to put us 3-2 up at half time.

The red card for their 11 didn’t help their cause early second half (he swore at the ref) and after Karl limped off, Colm Costello finished off a fine move for 4-2 involving Sean, Will, Dec Dolan and Raftie.  Raftie actually passed the final ball which was very unusual especially after he ignored Richie O’Loughlin in the first half for the second goal.  It was quite easy after that, Colm rattled the post from 20 yards near the end.

Good performances from Colm, the two Bradys at the back and plenty of commitment, effort and honesty from the rest of us.  They were a mouthy lot and it was nice to beat them.

 

15/1/01

Got an email from Gar to state that Karl broke his toe on Sunday.  Just about sums up his season and the season for us as a whole.  Looking back now with 5 games and a cup left, we’ve lost Karl, Bullie, Mick, Gar, Brian, Richie, Fergal and Dave for significant/sizeable parts of the season and God knows who else will come to grief before we take our summer break.  Mick is due back jogging this week, but will be some way off a game, Bullie will need work too if he’s down this week, Brian’s gone for a few weeks and Karl probably another few weeks of a setback.  Thankfully we do have a strength in depth though now and I still feel we make a real go for the Cullen Cup and stay ahead of Alpine for third spot in the League.

 

20/1/02, 2nd team game, Lucan 1, Terenure College 0.

A disappointing result.  From my squad, we again had Al, Dec and meself with the addition of Ger in midfield.  Tomas Howlin made his debut and with Dec Dolan and Stephen (again)  not turning up, Sean was forced to play Donal O’Brien up front and Gus alongside him.  We later found out that Dec was taken sick at a late stage, so it wasn’t like he didn’t bother;  knowing Dec as we do, we knew something had happened for him to miss out.

Playing into a gale first half, we defended comfortably and gave nothing away and we were well set after a scoreless first half.  We didn’t create many chances though with the wind in our backs and too often the through ball was overhit and it got frustrating.  They scored a soft goal with about 10 left to take the points.  I enjoyed the 90 minutes though, the result was frustrating and I felt sorry for Sean given Dec’s absence and Steo’s lateness, it really doesn’t help.

 

21/2/02

Fixtures see us idle again next weekend which I’m delighted about.  Raftie and Kieran are still away for the weekend (both back next week), Richie can’t train as he’s in England, Karl and Brian on the injured list and Mick and Bullie only making their recoveries, so we’ve been poxed not to have a game since the great win over Confey.  Thanks Roger!

 

27/1/02, 2nds game, Terenure College 3, Ballinteer 2

Starts for Al, Denis and Ger with 30 minute runs for Sparky and Richie Lombard, the four outfield lads needed the run and it was good for them with Ger getting another 90 under his belt, which he needed on his own admission.  This was an enjoyable contest, the lads played some super stuff first half and though they went behind against the run of play, Dec Dolan’s hat-trick before half time gave the lads a deserved cushion.

2nd half Ballinteer came at us, and though they got a peno for 3-2, our fellas were comfortable enough with Kev Brady getting better every outing at centre half, he was outstanding today I thought.  I’m delighted for Sean and his team that they made it two wins in three games, good performances all round.

 

29/1/02, training.

Turnout of 14 in very heavy conditions.  This is the lead up to the Cullen Cup game against Sportslink, so I’d asked for a 7.30 start and almost everyone obliged.  We’ll be without Fergal due to work, so I’ll give Richie O’Loughlin the right back spot where he filled in so well last season on many occasions and I’ll move Denis to right side of midfield where he can get forward the way he likes to.  Mick has made good progress and just needs a bit of sharpness and extra lung power given his long lay-off, but it’s great that he’ll be in the 15 I’ll take.  Karl, Gar and Brian are still on the injured list but barring any disasters on Thursday, we should have a fairly strong selection and I was impressed with our attitude and work tonight.  More of the same needed on Thursday.  I’m really gunning for this game on Sunday.

 

3/2/02, Cullen Cup, Terenure College v Sportslink, postponed

The pitch was fine yesterday when I went down lunchtime, but by Sunday morning it was waterlogged due to an obvious deluge Saturday night.  Pain in the ass as I was really looking forward to this game, but it gives Mick and Gar and extra week’s training to work on and for Karl and Brian another week’s recovery, though Brian won’t kick a ball for another month.

 

7/2/02, training.

Training pitch still very heavy but we were able to play two games at either end as there were 20 of us down.  No game for us this week again, the lads are itching to play.  Next week I’ll only have Karl and Brian missing, so I have some difficult decisions ahead of me.  Mick reckons the medal winners should get preference!   Sean will take me, Ger, Gar and Mick for Sunday with Sparky and Dec in reserve and young Alex (Jerzy) will make his debut in goal.  Weather permitting of course.

 

10/2/02, 2nds game

Pitch was unplayable again due to the incessant rain all week so we had a 5-a-side up at the Astro, very close game and sharp and snappy, we all did well and enjoyed it.

 

11/2/02

Cup game v Sportslink was the fixture in the Herald, but the deadlock with the League and the referees hasn’t been resolved, so the refs are going on strike until the League gets its finger out and I don’t blame the men in black.  The League need to stop pussyfooting around and deal with violent players correctly and practice what they preach every week in the Herald.  So God knows when we’ll play again.

 

17/2/02, practice game, Purples 1, Colours 2.

We decided we needed a good 90 minute game, so we organised a mixed firsts/seconds game and it went pretty well.  23 turned up, so Robbie Conway reffed the first half with Keith taking over at HT.  He only needed to ref for 10 minutes as the unlucky Will got injured and hobbled off.

Game was played at a good tempo and everyone gave their all, it was a good chance to look at Alex Wilson and though he hadn’t many saves of note to make, he was verbal and alert and kicked the ball well and handled most things well, so he looks the part.  In front of him Kev Brady was outstanding again with the unflappable Dave beside him to help him.  Kev gets better there every game and has defo found his best position.

On the other team, Ferg and Bullie were lively and incisive and Dec Brady was knocking it about in the middle better than I’ve seen him.  The improvement in that lad in the past 12 months is remarkable and he can only keep improving with the attitude he has.

The goals came from Bomber Frehill for the Colours early on, a fine finish to a good move.  Fergus equalised from 25 yards after dispossessing Mark for a beauty soon after.  Denis got the winner for the Colours with the last kick of the game, finished it well after Purples failed to deal with a set piece free-kick.  So a good 90 minutes from everyone and with Newtown looming next week, it was good for all the lads to get a full run after a lot of inactivity the past few weeks.

 

24/2/02, Terenure College v Newtown Rangers, postponed

The incessant rain was again too much for the pitch but I wasn’t too unhappy that it didn’t survive given that Dec, Ger and Mick were unavailable and Karl and Brian still out, so I was down to 13.  We need 15 fit fellows against these and we should have them when we do play them.  I’d like to have had a game or two again before we take them on.

 

28/2/02, training

We’ve put in a good week’s work ahead of the Cullen Cup game at home to Sportslink on Sunday.  Conditions were the heaviest I can recall in years making the football a bit of a lottery as the ground was like a gluepot, but everyone worked their socks off in the running and I believe the heavy ground will have helped our stamina.  Ger is back Saturday to do 14th man, Kev Brady gets a call up for 15th.  The eleven selected are strong and there’s a good shape to the team and they’re all itching to get playing again.  We’re ready for it.

 

3/3/02, Cullen Cup, Terenure College 4, Sportslink 3

A win is a win and a place in the last 8 is all that matters, but the scoreline flatters them. We gave a terrific opening half hour and led 4-1 after 40 minutes, but a goal on half time for them, a scrappy enough second half and a 75th minute 3rd for them, caused us a closer finish than it should have been.

I’d asked for the usual good start, first goal, up-and-at-em stuff and after a good week’s training, I knew we’d be up for it.  I also asked Kieran Murray to impose himself more on games with greater consistency, but I didn’t expect him to impose his influence after 6 seconds!  That’s all it took for the first goal, Denis kicked off to Raftie who played his usual searching ball towards their right-full.  With Kieran in full flight, he headed it past the full back and smacked it right footed into the far corner for a wonderful opener that shocked everyone.

We kept up a great early tempo, Bullie and Raftie brought fine saves from their keeper and after 18 minutes, we got the second.  Denis’ corner on the left was headed on by Raftie and Mark rose to bullet a header into the net from 8 yards.  Some of our play from there on was excellent, Denis was revelling in his forward role with intelligent running and great work on the ball.  He should have scored after being put through by Bullie, but the keeper again saved with Raftie looking for a square ball. 

They pulled one back after 30 minutes when Darren’s free was cleared by them, Dave misjudged the ball in the breeze and their fella ran on to chip past Al despite a great effort from Gar to catch him.  Minutes later though Dec found Denis at the lake corner and a wonderful cross into the breeze from Denis was headed in by Raftie.  Great goal.  On 40 minutes it was 4, Gar dinking a ball over the defence, Denis raced on to it and did square it this time to Raftie who made it 4-1.

They scored from 25 yards just before HT to signal they weren’t rolling over and dying, though our fellas were forced into rolling over with some truly awful tackles on Ferg in particular and one by the full back on Dec which meant Dec didn’t return for the second 45.  Having been roasted by Kieran for 45 minutes, that same full-back was withdrawn after his yellow carded tackle on the unlucky Dec.

Second half we dropped our game, lack of matches told a bit and our passing got sloppy, but their keeper was still busier, a great save from Raftie’s 25 yard free being the pick.  More yellow cards followed for them as they continued to try provoke us, but fair play to the lads, they got on with it and kept their head well.  A long cross on our left evaded everyone and their winger smacked a deflected shot past Al after 75 to make it 4-3, but we went straight down and Denis did brilliantly only to see his goalbound shot handled on the line.  Red card and peno, Raftie struck it poorly and the keeper saved to his right.

We held on easily enough and all in all I’m pleased to progress and my first win in a Cup tie in 6 attempts.  While we didn’t exactly lay the Hartstown ghost to rest, we got the win and our first half was very impressive.  Richie O’Loughlin gave an excellent 2nd half in Dec’s place and Denis was man of the match up front and looks a natural up there.  So we’re in the Quarter Final and that’s all that matters at this moment.

 

10/3/02, league game, Terenure College v Newtown, postponed

Another Saturday night deluge led to the pitch being waterlogged.  It really didn’t need the inspection from the ref, but it was late enough and we ringing the ref, so he was well within his rights to turn up and get half his fee plus expenses.  But I was relieved the game didn’t go ahead given our decimated squad of only 11 fit players.

 

24/3/02, practice game, Whites 5, Colours 5

With yet another blank weekend for us, we decided we needed another practice game and it was a very enjoyable 90 minutes.  It was important for the likes of Mick and Darren who needed some more action after lay-offs and it was great to see Karl back after his lay-off.  He got stronger as the game went on and should be good and ready by the Cup game.

Whites scorers were Raftie 2, Rodders 2 and Bullie and Colours scorers were Brian O Donoghue, Sparky, Shane, Denis and Karl.  Some great goals among them and we settled it on penos, 4-2 for the whites.  Gar’s attempt gave us all a huge laugh which got Bullie’s miss off the hook.

League Secretary Roger Mahon told me that our next game isn’t till April 9 in the League and the Cup Quarter Final is the following Sunday, the 14th.  While it’s maybe frustrating with lack of action, at least the injured Dec and Floodsie have more time to get back and Karl, Mick and Darren should be back at full pelt as well, so I’m happy enough with the fixture situation.  Alpine drew yesterday so we’ve a real chance now of 3rd in the League and I’ll be disappointed if we don’t finish there.

 

2/4/02, training

Only meself, Gar, Al and Richie Lombard plus Gus, Dec Dolan and Colm turned up tonight.  With a league game this night week and the Cup Quarters 12 days away, I’m a bit annoyed with the attendance tonight.  Granted a few are carrying knocks, but the lack of recent action is clearly having an effect on attitude.  Thursday’s training session takes on a lot of importance as regards the first XI, I’ll be without Dec Brady and Darren, but I should still have 15 to choose from and I hope the Cherryfield selection will be as close to the Joey’s game as I can make it.  The next four weeks sees 3 league games and hopefully two cup games, with Newtown not facing us till May now.  I was at Newtown’s game on Sunday with Confey, Confey won 2-1 on a golden goal.  Newtown didn’t impress me greatly, they’re a very physical team, but they didn’t create a whole lot of problems for Confey and Confey played the better football.  But we must match Newtown in the tough stuff, but that’s a month away, Tuesday v Cherryfield is the most important thing right now.

 

4/4/02, training

Good turnout and response following yesterday’s email.  18 turned up with only meself and Dave not taking any part.  I have to leave Dave to as late as possible, he’s 99% certain to start Tuesday but it’s down to luck how long he’ll last so Kev Brady comes into the squad as cover for Dave.  It was difficult having to tell Ger I wasn’t starting him Tuesday but Karl is back fit and needs this start with the Cup game to come 5 days later.  I’ll have more selection posers in the coming weeks with Richie Lombard back for the remaining weeks and Dec Brady should be ready for action after the Cup game.  Attitude tonight was good, hopefully the lads can carry that into Tuesday.

 

9/4/02, league game, Terenure College v Cherryfield

Cherryfield rang Gus yesterday to say they couldn’t field a team and they’ve said they’ll concede the points.  While we could have done with the game, it gives Dave more time to make sure his tendon is OK.  Raftie made the good suggestion that we get an eleven-a-side game organised with some of Sean’s lads, so we did.  We got 11 per side eventually and while it wasn’t a great standard of play, the objective was 90 minutes under the belt.  Dave got through 70 fine and Dec Brady did the same, so I’m delighted to have them two back, I thought Sunday may be too early for Dec, but he’ll be in the squad for Joey’s and may even start.  Gar and Ger both went off with knocks, but nothing to worry about, so we’ve 15 in the panel, not including me, even though I’m fit and OK.

We had the AGM in the Morgue after seeing Liverpool knocked out by Leverkeusen in a thriller, we got throught it quickly enough with some constructive comments about improving training methods, a discussion about whether we should stay in Div 2 if we come third and a commitment to get lads from 6th year in the College to come down pre-season.  A game against them was done in the past, so it would be good to resurrect that.

 

14/4/02, Cullen Cup Quarter Final.  St. Joseph’s Boys v Terenure College, postponed

Due to the sudden death of the chairman of St.Joseph’s Boys the day before, all fixtures involving their club were obviously postponed.  We send our sincere sympathies to all concerned and a timely reminder again that Bill Shankly was a bit over the top on his assertion that (paraphrase) football was more important than life or death.  This game is re-fixed for Thursday 25th April.

In the other 3 quarter-finals, Tymon Celtic (Confey’s conquerers), YMCA and Newtown all advanced.  I went to see Newtown again in action, they were away to Alpine and won 4-2.  It was a fairly poor game on a terrible pitch.  The grass was long and the ball was jumping all over the place.  Alpine’s keeper had one of those games he’d rather forget, there was only one decent goal out of the six, Newtown’s central midfielder volleyed one in from 35 yards and he was more prominent today than when I last saw them.  Newtown did not defend corners/frees well at all and it’s something we can definitely exploit when we play them.  If our deliveries are decent, they’ll struggle.  What impresses me about them is they’re a very hard-working side and as I said before very physical and tough, but certainly not unbeatable.  So we remain having only played two competitive games in the last 14 weeks.  Incredible, but again today’s postponement gives Dec a real chance of making the re-fixed game.

 

21/4/02, league game, Terenure College 6, Aer Lingus 1

At last our first League game for over three months, but we’ve been able to get Karl, Dec, Dave and Mick fit again, so I had a strong XI for today and strong replacements.

I could see the lads were raring to go after so much inactivity and it showed as we started brightly playing towards the lake goal as usual.  We were getting in first to the 50/50s and competing 100% when we didn’t have the ball though Lingus came closest to opening the score early with a shot which touched the top of Al’s bar.

After about 15 minutes, we took a deserved lead; Dave’s corner at the lake was cleared to the edge of the box and Karl watched the ball drop and volleyed wonderfully into the far corner for a superb goal.  His celebrations were understandable given his injury-plagued season and it was a technically brilliant goal from the skipper.  We kept up an excellent tempo, never allowing them to settle.  They were useful enough and far superior to the Aer Lingus team we played last September, but we were dominating.  Denis and Raftie both went close before Bullie sent in a great cross from the right and Raftie got there ahead of the keeper to glance in the second with his head.

Dec was at his immense best, his importance to our team is incalculable as time and again he won big tackles and aerial duels to get us moving again.  The progress that lad has made in 12 months is remarkable. 

We got the crucial third just before the break.  Another Dave corner by the lake swerved in with the strong breeze and the keeper could only help it in;  the ref was happy to credit it to Floodsie, so it’s his goal and I was delighted to go in 3 up as they weren’t throwing in the towel.

As usual it was crucial we got the next goal and it arrived via another corner on the right.  Mick dinked it in to the near post and Raftie’s free header went through the legs of the defender on the post to put us out of sight.   We were relentless in our work rate and that was very impressive.  Dec began to limp so rather than risk anything for Thursday, I took him off after about 65 minutes, Red Richie replacing him.  Richie was immediately in the play, taking a nice flick from Denis and sliding a lovely pass to Raftie.  Raftie turned inside the defender and made it 5-0 with his right peg.  Great goal. 

Floodsie came off immediately so as not to risk anything either, Kev replaced him and after Lingus made it 5-1, I brought Raftie off allowing Richie Lombard to make a welcome return.  Just before full time, lovely interplay between Richie L and Denis saw Richie Lombard blocked by the keeper, the ball broke to Gar who’d sneaked up from left back and Gar calmly slotted home for 6-1.  There were a few groans of “Oh No” as Gar prepared to score and he made the expected hay after the game and will doubtless do so during the week.

So an excellent display ahead of Thursday, big games from everyone but I’d have to single out Dec, Kieran, Sparky and Bullie who all really stood out.  Kieran had his best game for us, a lot more consistency and working back than he’s previously shown, he’s a better player than he realises.  Very few if any negatives from today, we go into the Cup game with a lot of momentum and confidence.  I was most impressed with us today.

Unbeaten home run in the League now at 24 matches, 17 wins and 7 draws.

 

22/4/02

Mick rang to say he’s a major doubt for Thursday, he’s damaged a tendon in his shoulder and he’s majorly browned off.  It’s a setback alright, but we’ve now so much cover in the panel, it shouldn’t unduly affect us.  With Bullie having performed so well yesterday, Fergal would have to be content with a sub spot on Thursday, but Mick’s likely absence will enable me to play Fergal and move Bullie back to right full.  Unfortunate for Mick, he was excellent yesterday in his first game for us since October.

 

23/4/02, training.

Mick had earlier rang to confirm he wouldn’t be fit to play, so Bullie goes to right back.

A few of the lads sat out training tonight due to some stiffness and soreness after  a testing 90 on Sunday.  The rest of us plus the 2nds had a 35 minute game and we went through a few frees, corners and of course penos.  It was all fairly low key.  The big worry arrived early in training as Raftie was unable to run due to the knock on the knee he got when he collided with the Aer Lingus keeper.  It doesn’t look very hopeful if my eyes were anything to go by.  Thankfully Linda Lombard was able to have a look after the session and it’s really wait and see.  If the worst came to the worst before or during the game, I’d push Kieran Murray up front, move Bullie (sorry Bullie) again to left side midfield with Red Richie going to right back.  It would be a huge setback to lose the goal king and would really test our mettle.  I’ll know by kick-off or shortly after in two days time.

 

25/4/02, Cullen Cup Quarter-Final, St. Joseph’s Boys 2, Terenure College 4

A hard fought but totally deserved win for us tonight.  While we weren’t at our best as regards our general play, our work rate, hunger, determination and attitude got us there and getting ourselves two up in ten minutes completely dictated the way the game would go.

Less than five minutes had gone after a bright start by us when Bullie took a short pass from Fergal and Bullie sent in a wonderful cross for Raftie to head past the keeper easily for a dream start.  Shortly after that, a surging run by Karl ended with Raftie showing great persistence to get a shot in; the keeper parried it and Denis was there at the far post, he controlled the ball, switched feet and stroked in number two with his left from 6 yards.  Terrific start.

Joey’s settled down after our storming start but Dave and Mark in particular defended with great assurance.  After about 22 minutes, we failed to clear  a throw and Dec lunged in inside the box for a certain penalty.  Their right back converted the peno to Al’s right to reduce it to 2-1.  We got a bit sloppy for the remainder of the half and the awkward pitch didn’t help.  We also were too anxious on the ball and Fergal and Kieran were starved of good ball out wide.   Right on half-time Karl struck a free from just inside their half deep into the area, Raftie rose and headed in our third for a huge half-time boost and a 3-1 lead.

Second half we used the ball far better, Kieran started to give the right back far more problems and Dec, Karl and Fergal won the midfield sector hands down.  Another goal would surely kill them off and it arrived after 66 minutes.  More good determination from Denis and Fergal led to a free wide on the right about 40 yards out.  Karl struck it with his usual class and the keeper misjudged the flight as it looped over his head and dropped inside the far post for 4-1 to us.  A lucky goal but a huge one.

Joey’s to their credit kept battling and made a few chances but we coped fine. Kieran was having a far better second half and a brilliant effort struck the bar with 15 left and Karl was back to his powerful best, dominating with Dec immense beside him.  As the game seemed to be petering out, Sparky gave a casual ball away 45 yards out and with him stranded, a cross was lofted in and their fellow beat Bullie and Al to the ball and looped it over Al’s head for 4-2 with 10 minutes left.  Moments later with our concentration now broken we got caught square and Mark took down the inrushing forward for a peno with 8 left.  Jaysus, I thought, what is going on?  From coasting along, it’s about to be 4-3 and still 8 mins to play.

Joey’s sub stepped up and struck the peno well but Al flung himself to his left and made a brilliant save, pushing it away for a corner and major relief.  We dealt with the corner and got our act together as the minutes fizzled out.  So despite not playing particularly well, we’ve qualified for a semi-final spot away to Newtown on 12 May and I’m relieved to have got this game won.  It was a potential banana skin and while not at our best coming forward, our attitude and work rate and determination was once again very pleasing, we have laid the Hartstown game to rest now no question.  We need not fear this semi-final in two weeks or so and the lads are all delighted tonight.

 

28/4/02, league game, Terenure College 5, Walkinstown 2

I should be concentrating on what was a wonderful performance today, but injuries inflicted by our opponents on Ferg, Karl and Bullie and a referee who indulged them to a dangerous extent took the shine off the game and I spent the rest of the day in a very angry mood. 

Walkinstown played with the wind first half, it was blowing towards Templeogue Road for a change as we attacked the Lake End as usual.  We made an excellent start, playing some sharp attacking stuff, Richie Lombard returned to the team and looked as if he’d never been away with his unselfish and incisive running.

After 10 minutes they took a shock lead, we lost possession 35 yards out and their number 6 hit a 30 yarder that dipped in the wind and gave Al no chance.  They hadn’t made anything before or after and we had some great situations, but for a change we didn’t get the breaks.  Raftie had one of those halves where nothing went for him and Karl hit a dipper just over from 25 yards.  After 30 minutes, Dave and Mark got in a tangle and allowed their man to run on and make it 2-0 to Walkinstown.  This was just robbery to be two down, so the instructions were be patient.

To the lads credit, there was no panic in our play and we got a reward after 42 minutes. Gar slid a lovely ball through for the flying Kieran who was felled inside the box.  Karl planted the peno high to the keeper’s left to reduce the half-time deficit to 1-2.  Fergal failed to appear for the second half.  Having been hacked down by their keeper, he fell badly and injured his shoulder, so Red Richie came in to full back, pushing Bullie into midfield.

There were no harsh words needed as we were playing very well and it took us less than five minutes of the second half to get level.  Karl played a short corner on the left to Gar, Gar carried it in and put in a dangerous low cross, finally Raftie got a break and prodded in the equaliser.  We were really motoring now and after an hour we scored the goal of the season.  Kieran played a nice inside ball to Dec who fed Karl in the centre circle.  Karl spotted Bullie’s run to the right and stroked a lovely ball in front of the Bull.  Bullie sprinted onto it and without breaking stride whacked a thirty yard shot which dipped and slammed against the underside of the bar and bounced into the net.  A stunning goal as Bullie dived onto the ground in delight.  3-2 to us.

Gar came off after 65 as a precaution and I went in to left full.  We continued to dominate all sectors and when Sparky played a lovely 30 yard ball down the right channel to Raftie, there was only one outcome, 4-2 to us.  Soon after, things went pear-shaped.  A dreadful tackle by their number 7 laid out Karl who was screaming on the ground in agony.  No card and NOT EVEN A FREE KICK GIVEN.  I couldn’t believe it.  This was a result of the ref’s insistence on keeping cards in his pocket earlier for fouls and they decided to get nasty.  Ger came in for the stricken Karl for the last 15.  More followed five minutes later, their same player took Bullie out of the game, ploughing through his ankle.  Amazingly again, no card and no free, it was a disgrace and my blood was boiling. Bullie hobbled off and we were now down to 10 men.  Their line then got involved after Dec fouled one of them and I lost it with their line, I was now steaming.  Floodsie calmed me down after a word from the ref who was lucky not to get an earful from me.  Minutes from the end Ger floated a lovely free from the centre circle right on to Raftie’s head and 5-2 gave a more balanced look on the scoreboard.

So three out of the game on Tuesday against Newtown and with Denis away and Mick unfit, I’m struggling with selection.  Like I said earlier, their antics and the weakness of the ref took away from a superb performance as we made it a quarter century of games unbeaten down at the College.  A great achievement from an excellent team in every sense of the word.

 

30/4/02, league game, Terenure College 1, Newtown Rangers 2.

Well it had to end eventually, our long unbeaten run was ended in dramatic fashion by an 88th minute winner for Newtown.  To be honest one couldn’t argue with the result, but I was sick that our guts, commitment and bravery wasn’t quite enough to enable us to hang on for a point.

With Karl, Ferg, Bullie and Mick injured and Denis away, there were starts for Red Richie, Ger and meself and early on was a struggle for us as their three central midfielders and wing backs were dominating us.  Still Al didn’t have a lot to do as we weathered the early storm.  As I said after seeing Newtown play Alpine, they are weak at defending set pieces and we should have taken the lead when Dave’s free kick allowed Dec and Mark in, but we couldn’t take the chance and the keeper saved.

Newtown did have the better possession, but we got to grips with it in midfield and Richie Lombard was again proving a great outlet for us to hold the ball up.  His brilliant cross from the Lake corner saw Raftie narrowly miss with a near post header.  Five minutes before the break we took the lead following a set piece which they again didn’t deal with at all.

Ger floated in a free from far out, Mark won the header and the ball broke nicely for Dec who steamed in and slammed home along the floor left footed from 12 yards.  I was delighted for him, he was having yet another immense game for us.

Second half was a torrid time early doors, twice Al had to make excellent saves as they broke down my side and I was starting to feel the pace now.  But we were all still digging in, standing up to them every step of the way and I headed one off the line after a move down our left.  We didn’t see much of Kieran coming forward, but he was superb defensively as was all the back four.  Sadly with 25 to go, Dec took a knock on his ankle and had to limp off and that was crucial and I followed 5 minutes later as I ran out of gas.  Kev Brady and Brian Cullen replaced us.

They were getting increasingly desperate and Richie had a great chance to make it two after great work by Raftie, but his shot from inside the box just cleared the bar.  After 75 minutes a corner on their right slipped from Al’s grasp and they equalised from the goalmouth scramble for a sickener of a goal.  I still thought we’d hang on, but to their credit they continued to cause us problems with good corner deliveries, but we defended them with our lives.  After 88 minutes, their sub got in down our right and the ball broke for their left winger who shot into the top corner from 15 yards. 

Right from the kick off, Brian sent in a great cross which was nearly headed into his own goal by the defender, but we couldn’t score from the two corners that followed and our 25 game run is over. 

We were bitterly disappointed in the dressing room after such a brave 90 minutes, but we haven’t shown Newtown our hand and once we can get most of our injured back by Sunday week, we’ll show them the real Terenure.  I’m far from despondent and really looking forward to Sunday week, despite their slanty pitch.  They’ll have pretty much the same players, I have a few extra up me sleeve that will hopefully make the difference.  We must win our last League game next Tuesday to finish third.

 

2/5/02, Cullen Cup Semi Final, YMCA 2, Tymon Cel 3

I headed out to Ringsend Park to run the rule over our possible final opponents.  Tymon came back from 1-2 down at half-time to win in what was a completely shapeless and passionless affair.  There was only one good goal in the game, YM’s second from a 25 yard free, all the other goals were scrappy or soft and there was nothing to get too anxious about from the winners. 

Dave from Newtown was there and we had a good chat about the game the other night and our upcoming re-match and I was surprised how open he was telling me about his team, most or all of which I knew meself from watching them.  I told him absolutely nothing about our injury worries.  While Dave respects us, I’m not sure he really rates our chances of beating them, so I would just love to turn the tables on them.  10 days to go. 

In the League, Alpine completed their games with a win, so we must win on Tuesday to  finish third which would be an excellent performance.

 

6/5/02.

Made a few calls today to the injured.  Karl’s hoping to be ok for the semi, it’s a race against time and he sees the physio tomorrow for an update.  Fergal is gloomy about the semi, he has damaged ligaments in his shoulder and doesn’t reckon he’ll make it.  Dec’s ankle is sore at the moment when he runs, so he’s out of tomorrow’s league game, I hope he can make it by Sunday.  The only good news I got was Bullie’s recovery and he starts tomorrow.  So I’ll have to revert Denis to full back with Red Richie going into midfield beside Ger.  Darren returns to the squad and Brian Cullen again can give me cover, so I’ll have 15 for tomorrow. 

 

7/5/02, league game, Terenure College 6, Meath Rangers 1.

Our last league game of the season, this game was a personal mission for me after the 0-5 drubbing last August when they took to mickey out of us, so I asked the lads to do to them what they did to us. 

We started poorly however and they had some decent players and Al made a terrific save early on after we got caught square.  Our early passing was sloppy and we were second to the ball and they took a deserved lead on 15 minutes, again after we were a bit square.  We eventually settled and dominated from the 20th minute on.  Raftie missed with two headers and he had one miraculously taken off the line.  I was starting to wonder would it be one of those nights.  Deservedly after 40 minutes, our umpteenth corner led to the equaliser.  Dave curled it in from the Lake corner to the far post where Ger thumped a header high into the far corner. 

The half time chat was keep playing, be patient.  They had created nothing after their goal and we were dominating, especially out wide with Kieran and Bullie playing excellently.  Again though we started the half slowly and Denis went from an ok first half to a crazy second as he lost it with himself.    Having been booked for a retaliatory kick on their 10, he again fouled needlessly and minutes later I took him off before he was sent off and I went in to right back.  He knows he let himself down but this was the kind of game to have the red mist and not next Sunday. 

We got our act together again and 15 minutes into the second half, Red Richie won a free on the left.  Ger knocked it in and Raftie headed in the lead goal.  Minutes later, Bullie hit a wonderful volley from 25 yards over the keeper for a super third goal.  Number four followed not long after as we kept up the barrage of attacks.  Richie the Shirt played in Raftie who swivelled and his shot went in off the bar.

Ger and Red Richie took knocks and came off for the last 10 minutes, replaced by Kev and Darren.  Richie had a smashing game and Ger was class tonight.  Number five came from a short corner, Bullie taking Gar’s pass and swinging in a great ball to the far post where Kev scored his first goal for the first team from close range.  Delighted for him, these Brady boys are gems.  A minute after came the icing on the cake as we atoned for that five goal margin in August by making it 6-1.  An incredible cross again by Bullie who is on fire right now, landed on Raftie’s head and he bagged yet another hat trick.  This goal was sweet for me as I roared  “Come to Daddy” in their direction.  That’s the last time Meath will take the p*** out of any team of mine.

So third place was won with a terrific performance and I’m really pleased for the lads, they have shown wonderful character in a season that dragged and dragged and while injuries are part and parcel of a season, it’s fair to say we suffered more than most.  But anyone who came in played a big part in getting us to third spot and the league table is an accurate reflection on the season.  We’re definitely ready now for Newtown on Sunday, Karl, Ferg and Mick still very doubtful, but if they do miss out, whoever plays on Sunday will not fear Newtown.  We have a real chance.

 

9/5/02.

Three days to go, most of my thoughts outside of work are on Sunday, hoping we can do ourselves justice with our without our injured lads.  We gave them a good game last week, but we definitely need to do more coming forward and I believe we will with Bullie back for this one and him playing so brilliantly lately.  I’ll need Ger to give me his biggest game yet, he has all the class still and one piece of magic can turn a game, I just hope his legs can keep the pace with what is a young Newtown side.  At this stage, I’ll have two changes from the League game against Newtown, Bullie in for me and Denis for the unlucky Richie O’Loughlin.  Subs should be Karl, Richie, meself and Kevin Brady, meaning Darren missing out.

Karl saw physio again today and reckons sub is his only possibility, he’ll see him again Saturday morning.  Thankfully there’s no internal damage, it appears to be the kneecap.  It would be a hell of a scalp for us if we can get a win.  I’ll be more nervous this Sunday than when we had the league winning game last season.  I’ve never been to a Final in Junior Soccer, it would be nice to get there.

 

9/5/02, training

Handy enough kickabout and a few penalty practices was all we did tonight.  Mick joined in the game, but has very limited shoulder agility, so he’s out of the semi.  He put the idea into my head that rather than have Karl in reserve, he should start instead.  It would be better for him and the team to start;  if he breaks down after 20 mintues, well that’s the way it goes, but at least I’d only have used one sub rather than him coming on as sub and breaking down.  I reckon his presence at the start would give all of us a lift too, so I’ll speak to him tomorrow.  Dec Brady’s fit and fine.

 

10/5/02.

Rang Karl and put Mick’s idea to him, told him just to be thinking that way till after he sees the physio.  If physio reckons he can do sub, I will start him.  Rang Ferg as well, he’s hoping to make sub and I’ll know later on.  The difference here is my right side is sorted with Denis and Bullie, so Ferg will start sub if he’s deemed fit to play.   I’ll be glad when this week is over.

 

11/5/02.

Karl is out having gone for a run and feeling pain.  Fergal is by no means 100% but he’ll do sub so the team for the semi is Alec Leckey, Denis O Frighil, Mark Hanlon, David Flood, Gar O’Grady; Niall McCabe, Declan Brady, Ger Breen, Kieran Murray; Ciaran Rafter and Richie Lombard.  Subs Phelim Warren, Fergal O’Dwyer, Richie O’Loughlin and Kevin Brady.

 

12/5/02, Cullen Cup Semi Final, Newtown Rangers 2, Terenure College 2

               Newtown win 3-2 after Extra Time Golden Goal

 A warm and sunny morning at Farrell Park for the long awaited semi-final and it was a game that didn’t disappoint.

We started brightly and Richie Lombard in particular was giving their defence a very difficult opening 15 minutes as play went from end to end.   At times early on, we made life a bit difficult for ourselves with hurried and sloppy clearances, but they weren’t getting in nearly as much as the League game twelve days ago and I felt we were doing fine.

After 28 minutes we gave away a soft goal, a break down our right on the high side of the pitch was allowed to beat three or four of us and their number eight mis-hit a shot past Alec from about 12 yards.  It was a dreadful goal to give away and it was still on our mind when we almost gifted them a second virtually from kick-off.  A back pass to Al saw his clearance blocked and we scrambled the ball away.  Newtown then hit a post as we lost our composure towards the end of the half.   So a goal down at the break.

As we came in for a much needed drink the message was keep the ball at the high side of the pitch, Mick had noticed all their play was directed there so we should follow suit.  We were competing fine, but our possession a bit wasteful, so once we got a grip there we still had a chance.  We started the half really well, Kieran got into it more and I could sense a goal.  Raftie was put through by Bullie in the 55th minute and was pulled down in the box.  As I hollered for a peno that wasn’t given, I almost missed Kieran getting on the end of the Denis cross after the ball broke.  Kieran kept his head and stroked in the equaliser as my peno appeal gave way to my Barry Fry-like sprint down the touchline to celebrate the goal.

As the half wore on, they were rattled and on the back foot, with their keeper looking ropey and a few tackles were flying in, but we never got involved and ref John Kavanagh was right on top of things.  On the hour however, the 8 got in behind Mark and Mark clearly took his legs for a cast iron peno.  The same player drilled it to Al’s left and Al didn’t miss it by much but 2-1 to them.

I don’t know where my lads get it, but they refuse to be beaten and we continued to take the game to the home side.  Ger signalled he had to come off just after their goal and as Fergal warmed up, we drew level again.  A long punt bounced in their box and the keeper misjudged it;  the defender scrambled the ball out and it seemed like an eternity before Richie Lombard turned and scored from six yards into an empty net. 

Yet another player got injured as Bullie pulled a hamstring and I was in the game and Richie Lombard tweaked a knee to be replaced for the final 15 by Richie O’Loughlin, pushing Denis up front.  Denis almost won it for us with a half chance but the keeper blocked and Raftie’s follow up was smothered by the keeper who spent most of the second half being treated.  With two minutes left Newtown had the ball in the net, but offside had been flagged.  John Kavanagh blew for time, 2-2 it finished, so Golden Goal or penos would settle it.

We spoke about concentration, I felt they were on the ropes, fighting with each other and we’d stood up to them in every department in a far closer game than our last meeting.  I felt we’d take it.

We kicked off but it went straight to their keeper who punted an enormous ball downfield which was scrambled away for a corner on their right.  We cleared it for another corner and in the ball came.  The ball came arrowing into the goalmouth and from my vantage point on the far post, it caught Al by surprise and we looked on in horror as Al couldn’t prevent the ball from going into the net with me stranded on the far post.  In the blink of an eye we were out;  before I could shout “away” I could hear their roars of celebration as our lads sank to the ground in horror.   I was first met by the ref, I barely muttered at him as we shook hands.  Newtown Manager Dave Grogan embraced me with the words “Your were magnificent”.  We were, but we were out..

It’s a cruel game at times, on another day it could have been us who went through, but I was damn proud of our lads, their determination to give an excellent Newtown side a run for their money was truly enormous.  We stuck to our task and refused to give in and I am gutted for every player that we didn’t get our reward.  Al was distraught but we’re a real team and we lost together as we win together, no one would be blamed on a heartbreaking defeat.  Make no mistake, these lads will be back.

 

SUMMARY

 

So that’s it.  It’s been a ten month season, starting with pre-season on 12th of July and ending in a disappointing semi final defeat.  But we have continued where we left off last season, with huge progression.  To finish third in the League behind Confey and Newtown was an excellent achievement and our end to the season saw us play some stunning football with great goals.   To keep going for ten months was a huge effort by the lads, there was never any slacking in the attitude to training despite going months and weeks without playing.  I am fortunate to have such lads and I hope we can continue our progress next season.  One never stops learning in this game and our performances in the three games against Newtown proved that.  From losing 0-4 in August, to a late 1-2 defeat at home to the semi final battle, we got better every game against them.  We will continue to progress.  And most of all we will continue to have a laugh.  See you for pre-season in July.

THE END

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