Saturday 8 September 2012
The sun came out to greet the new look Aquinas u16s for their first league game of the season at Black’s Road. The opponents were Abbeyvilla FC, who were playing their first game in the SBYL, after winning the AIBYL League Cup last season. The starting 11 for Aquinas consisted of no less than six new signings, and signs that they were still moulding as a team were evident as Abbeyvilla had the better of them in the first five minutes, with Dermot McMenamin pulling off two astonishing saves.
After the first five minutes, Aquinas took the game by the scruff of the neck and started to play some football that Barcelona would have been proud of. Aquinas went close twice with efforts from Captain Conall O'Neill and Dom Mooney, both being scrambled off the line, before Cronan Rogers, recently joined from Donegal Celtic, beat the offside trap to break the deadlock after 15 minutes to score his first Aquinas goal. It wasn't long until another Aquinas doubled their advantage. The big centre half, Conor King,met the inch perfect ball of Gavin McGrath at the back post, to direct his header into the top corner. By this stage Aquinas were like a wrecking ball breaking through the Abbeyvilla defence. Cronan Rogers added his second, and Aquinas’s third, when he met yet another sensational corner from fellow new boy Gavin McGrath.
Three nil up at half time, a dream start for new Aquinas manager, the blue’n’black Brendan Rogers, John Bailie and his assistant Brendan Sloan.
The second half started as the first ended, with Aquinas on the front foot. With the new roll on roll off substitution rule, Aquinas introduced Aquinas old boys Shane Moran and Chris Kelly into the game, as well as debutant Aodhan Dougan, who replaced Dom Mooney, Dylan Cunningham and Neil O'Reilly respectively. Having replaced workhorse Aidan Lunney in the first half Mark O'Hara was acting as a constant threat on the left wing, taking on the full back at every opportunity. It wasn't long until Shane Moran made a major impact on the game as he met an O'Neill cross to make it 4-0.
Even at this stage with the game well won, Aquinas didn't take their foot off the peddle. A lot of their play started from the back where Conor King, and Eamon McFadden acted as a brick wall, that no one could get past. Chris Kelly was everywhere when he came on, breaking up the play in defence, and then taking on his opposite number. This resulted in winning the corner that gave Cronan Rogers his hat trick, and Gavin McGrath his third assist of the game. Not a bad way to start their Aquinas careers! Aquinas captain Conall O'Neill added the sixth of the game, acting more like Tom Daley than any Olympic footballer, but every goal counts, and his goal rounded up a great day for Aquinas.
The man of the match this week was awarded to two players, both making their debut for the club. It's not very often that when a player scores a hat trick he doesn't get man of the match. Even with the all round excellent performance of new front man Rogers, Gavin McGrath and Eamon McFadden were given the joint man of the match award. McGrath notched up an impressive three assists on his debut, his all round performance was outstanding as he won every ball in midfield and acted as a key link between defence and attack. McFadden was equally impressive today, unbeatable in defence ensuring that McMenamin, and then Lavery in the Aquinas goal had very little to do.
With a performance like the one they gave today, Aquinas u16 will be pushing for silverware this year, may the good times return to the home of the Blue and Black Army!