And Sweeney wore it in style, entering the fray as an impact striker and quickly setting up Eddie Gilmartin for the all-important equalizer with 10 minutes to go against Barnstonworth Veterans at Bush Terminal Piers Park, the last field Robbie played on back at the start of October.
Sweeney’s pivoting lay-off to the edge of the box and Gilmartin’s neat finish sparked wild celebrations, before players and friends of Robbie gathered after the game to retire the 14 jersey.
“It was a testament to Robbie Walsh’s character and legacy that on a freezing cold, windy day in Brooklyn, a large crowd turned out to pay tribute to the Shamrocks legend,” Sweeney said afterwards.
“It was fitting that the team battled back from a 1-0 deficit to earn a share of the spoils,” he added. “Robbie would have been proud of our never-say-die attitude.”
It wasn’t just the Shamrocks club that took part in moments of silence for the club’s former coach and captain, Cosmopolitan Soccer League president Mike Fitzgerald sent out a directive to all clubs across all divisions to stand together before their games.
“I want to pay tribute to the president and the board of the CSL for this great gesture,” said club president Sean McMullan. “Our gratitude to all clubs for taking part. Robbie would have been delighted to be held in such high regard by our league.”
Firsts keep rolling
Kevin Grogan praised what he described as “the most important win of the season” after he watched his side record their eighth league win of the campaign at St. Michael’s on Saturday night.
Birthday boy Alejandro Fritz scored a superb header midway through the second half to pave the way for a well-earned 1-0 success over a plucky Doxa outfit.
The result keeps the Rocks five points clear at the top of Division 1.
During a game played in brutal conditions, the Rocks back line kept its fifth clean sheet of the season, with goalkeeper Frankie Tsasse solid behind centerbacks Zachary Gosse and Charlie O’Loughlin, while fullbacks Stu Colbert and Dan Giorgi played superb throughout.
Grogan was especially pleased with the first team debut of Cónall McGrandles, the former Cliftonville player marshaling the midfield in the absence of the suspended Giuseppe Barone.
“This was the most important win of the season,” the Rocks gaffer stated. “It wasn’t the best of performances, but we had the maturity and patience to score and win.”
Strike seals points
Andrew Scott was the goal hero for the reserves in the curtain raiser, pouncing late for a cool-headed finish to earn all three points against a talented Doxa reserves team.
John Riordan’s men had controlled most of the game, but a breakthrough was a long time coming as the visitors thwarted the Rocks in a high intensity game.
This was the team’s fourth win in a row in all competitions and their fourth in five league games, consolidating their third place position behind Lansdowne and the Greek Americans.
“We are really starting to click now and the lads are enjoying each game,” said the reserves boss. “This was their toughest challenge of the season and they stood up to it. Two months ago we might have left this slip by but we were solid throughout.”
1960 crush Croatia
Long-serving goalkeeper Robbie O’Neill kept his second clean sheet of the weekend as Rocks 1960 cruised past Metro 1 rivals Croatia, winning 5-0 on the back of a Hughie McGowan hat trick.
O’Neill, who had lined out 24 hours previously for the reserves, was flawless again between the posts as he watched his teammates put together a display that lifted the side to fourth place.
“The 1960s boys did themselves extremely proud in difficult conditions on Sunday night,” said coach Andy Connolly. “I hope this was a fitting tribute to Robbie, who we will continue to remember throughout the season.”
Cups for women
Earlier on Sunday, the Shamrocks Women’s teams moved on to the next rounds of their League Cups with a couple of great wins at St. Michael’s.
The Division A Cup game, which ended in a 4-0 victory over CPR White, marked one year undefeated for Paddy Geraghty’s charges, a landmark which was earned on the back of goals from Chloe Wheeler (set up by Denise Wilson), Teresa Ferraro, Sharon Odofin (penalty) and Jackie Pounder.
“We were solid today and we did what was needed,” said Geraghty. “Everyone played at least 45 minutes and we got to try players in different positions.”
In the Division B Cup, meanwhile, Cassey Esposito returned from her head injury in fine style, coming on late to score the game winner in a 2-1 result over Appletown. Colleen Cavanagh had opened the scoring for Keith Perez’s team.