The Rocks were reduced to ten men after just 20 minutes after an Anthony Grant goal, but never gave up and threatened to sneak a draw throughout an exciting second half played in a great spirit.
“It was a very competitive game and I’m extremely proud of how our players conducted themselves against the league champions,” said Grogan. “We are a new squad in the top league after a 10-year absence. Every game is a learning curve for our players.”
Meanwhile, the weakened Rocks reserves who were missing several key players pushed their opponents well, but eventually lost 3-1.
Mustafa Alobeidy’s first-half goal drew the teams level at 1-1, his first for the club since joining in November.
Meanwhile on Sunday, the Over 30s rounded out a banner year with a 10-0 win against Megas Alexandros at Randall’s Island.
The victory meant that Paddy McCarry’s CSL champions went unbeaten in the league throughout 2015, recording 16 wins and just one draw.
It was a farewell game to midfielder Danny Parkin, who moves to Texas after 18 superb months at the club.
The win over Megas inevitably brought with it another Sean Riley hat trick which began with a superb volley to make it 1-0 after 10 minutes.
An Alex Berne header two minutes later was followed by goals from Shawn Baron and Tayfun Gokmen, which extended the lead to 4-0 at the break.
The Rocks never relented and Paddy Geraghty headed home from a brilliant Gokmen corner after 55 minutes and then the roles were reversed ten minutes later, when Gokmen finished well after a Geraghty pass.
Berne scored his second with 70 minutes elapsed and then Riley scored a quick brace, the first of which was a brilliant lob from the halfway line.
Geraghty made it 10-0 with ten minutes to go to complete the tenth win of the season, one that assures a six-point lead at the top of the league going into spring.
Rocks 1960 will also be leaders when action resumes thanks to a 4-0 win in their Metro 2 win over Beyond FC.
Dave Harvey’s brilliant first-half free settled the Rocks, who took some time to control the game. Goalkeeper Nick Meola set up his brother Dan to make it 2-0 early in the second half, and goals from Hughie McGowan and Ciaran Moloney saw out the victory.
Elsewhere on Sunday, the Legends were beaten 5-1 by league leading Cozmos in Brooklyn.
“The guys gave everything today against the best team in the league,” said assistant coach Eoin Sweeney. “Ultimately, we want to beat these teams, and we are headed in the right direction.”