UCFL Div. 3 Shield
This article was originally published in blog:
13, 20, 22 April 2013
Walkinstown Athletic 7 – 2 Terenure FC 3rds
St Mary’s Boys 4 – 3 Terenure FC 3rds
Terenure FC 3rds 1 – 1 Grant City
We went into Monday evening’s game, away to Walkinstown, with high hopes of making it to the shield final but those hopes were left smashed as we dramatically fell apart in the second half of the game. In many ways this has been a strange season, in the early part there was no real regular squad, but as it’s progressed the team has developed and apart from a lack of a regular goalkeeper we have a solid and reliable squad. Results too have generally improved and we were looking at the shield competition as a way of demonstrating the quality of our squad, but after Monday we were left wondering where it all went wrong.
Defeat is all part of the game but when you get hammered 7 – 2 in what, for at least an hour, was an even enough game it leaves you questioning your sanity for even bothering. Our goalkeeping woes certainly didn’t help matters as it seemed that every time Walkinstown hit the target the ball was being picked out of the net, but still, it was only 2-1 at half time and for long periods of the first half we were the better team and played the better football, scoring a lovely goal, from Kev and unlucky maybe not to have been level.
We remained positive at half time but then the horror show began. We just seemed unable to get close enough to Walkinstown to prevent their shots (maybe a lot of tired legs from a heavy slog on Saturday) and with our obvious weakness in goal, suddenly, we found ourselves in meltdown. The first twenty minutes of the second half pretty much consisted of tipping off, picking the ball out of our own net and repeating. Suddenly it was 7 – 1 and we had lost our pride, our tempers with each other, and most of all our chance of making the shield final. Maybe Walkinstown backed off at that stage but we found some sort of resolve and it returned to being a good competitive game for the closing twenty minutes, with Kev smashing in another peach to offer us scant consolation.
Arguably we had a stronger outfield ten than when we beat Walkinstown in the league earlier in the season, which makes it all the more unfathomable that we rolled over in the manner we did. With confidence now badly damaged and shield hopes extinguished, we’re looking ahead to a relegation scrap for the remainder of the season and if we continue to lose games in the same manner it’s only going one way.
On Saturday the lads had to regroup for another visit to Mary’s Boys in Sandyford and in my absence it looked like the horrible form from Walkinstown was to continue early on as they were 3 – 0 down inside twenty minutes. But thankfully all the fight is not gone from the team and Danny, Fiachra and Darren dragged it back level before a Mary’s sucker punch gave them the three points and kept their own shield chances alive.
A week on from the nightmare on Bunting Road our old foes Grant City were the visitors to Bushy Park for a shield game that was no more than a dead rubber for us. Still there’s a good friendly rivalry between the clubs and Grant had beaten us twice in the league so we were determined to end that sequence. The first half was exactly what you expect in every game with Grant, a good physical battle, with little time on the ball and not too much in the way of expansive football. Both teams looked most dangerous on the counter attack, when spaces opened up and defences were stretched, but clear chances were generally at a premium. We grew stronger and looked more confident as the half stayed scoreless and Daire Burns skewed a good chance wide before Fiachra Fitzpatrick’s birthday celebrations were spoiled when his chipped effort came back off the cross bar.
The second half continued along the same pattern, neither side really dominant and as so often is the case it was a Grant set piece that broke the deadlock. We had already been warned of the danger when Liam pulled off a wonder save from a cross but that warning wasn’t heeded. My appearance on the field must have increased Grant’s confidence as they scored within a minute of my introduction; a dangerous free kick was missed by everyone and left Liam helpless as it sneaked into the corner of the net. Our organisation was questionable, but the ball was well delivered into a dangerous area so credit to the free taker too.
We looked the fitter team as the game went on and started to exert more pressure on Grant’s back four and a deserved equaliser arrived courtesy of Danny McKeuige’s third thunderbolt strike in four games. I’ll claim the assist as it was a poor clearance from my miss-hit cross that made its way back to him. With seven minutes to play the game was still there to be won and we were really pressing now, a quick counter attack in the dying minutes saw us with a 3 v 2 advantage and Gar Duffy squared for me to put Daire Burns in on goal, with options arriving in the box Daire took the responsibility himself and the Grant keeper pulled off a good save. We tried again from the corner but it wasn’t to be and the ref blew for full time.
Truthfully a draw was probably a fair result and at least we somewhat stemmed the tide defensively. The relegation scrap begins in earnest on Saturday when AGP come to Bushy Park. A win would leave us in a fairly strong position but defeat would plunge us deeper into difficulty so a positive performance is a must.