Glenn O'Hare Cup
And so it goes on… Just as we think we can bring down the curtain on 2003/2004 another Aquinas team does it again, and wins a cup. Next year’s under 10 team, got together early and managed by Aidan Duffy, Seamus McLernon, Sam McMenemey and Brian McCrea, were entered in a small under 9 competition, the Glenn O’Hare cup. It may have been small, but it was competitive and contained most of the teams which will form next year’s under 10 league. Disposing of, amongst others, old rivals Rosario on the way, Aquinas powered their way into the final. Our opponents were Hillsborough boys.
The final was held on a beautiful sunny evening at Cherryvale, Monday 14 June 2004. Once again, the Aquinas support had travelled in significant numbers and lined out along one touchline. The game started well with Aquinas dominant. The Aquinas pressure soon paid off with a goal from Conor Quigg through a sea of legs in a crowded Hillsborough box. Unfortunately, we then took our foot off the pedal completely and for the rest of the first half, in which we allowed them to come back twice to go in 2-1 up, Aquinas were at sixes and sevens all over the park.
The managers did the business at half time, and the second half saw a better Aquinas performance. We started to put passes together, find feet and once again resembled a winning team. The renewed determination was rewarded when the Hillsborough defender handled the ball in their box. The referee had no hesitation in giving the penalty. Once again, Aquinas had a penalty to get back into a final. Up stepped Mark Cummings. The touchline held its breath. Mark took a few steps back, ran forward ….. and slotted home so easily. 2-2, we were back in it. Despite chances for both sides, that was how it ended at full time. It would go to extra time, five minutes each way, and then penalties.
Similarly, extra time produced chances for both sides, but neither put them away. Now, it would be decided by penalties, with the heartbreak that brings to the losing side. Whose nerve would crack first? Hillsborough would kick first.
The Hillsborough player scored 1-0 to them. Up stepped Mark Cummings, a veteran of the NIBFA winning side. Surely he can take the pressure? Aidan Duffy could hardly bear to watch. The touchline wills him on. He shoots. He scores. 1-1. They score, 2-1. Now its Rory Finnegan’s turn to bring the experience of the year in the league to bear. He shoots. The goalie gets his hands to it. On the touchline, we think its been saved, but it was hit so hard the goalie cant stop it. Its in. 2-2. Now its Hillsborough again. 3-2.
The third Aquinas penalty taker steps up. He shoots. The goalie saves it. Deflation for Aquinas. Suddenly, all the pressure is on our goalie, Jack McCrea. Hillsborough take their best shot. Its low to the left. Jack has read it all the way, he’s down and he has it. Its still 3-2. The momentum is back with us. Up steps Niall Dorman. He makes no mistake. Its 3-3 after four penalties. Hillsborough’s turn again. Jack saves this one too.
From deflation we are now one shot away from the cup. Ben Matthews comes forward. The maths is simple. If he scores, we win. The tension on the touchline is unbearable, but Ben does not feel it. Calmly, he steps back, runs forward and sends it crashing into the back of the net. Aquinas have won the cup. The cup winning squad that day was Jack McCrea, Niall Quinn, Jack Hamill, Andrew Smyth, Conal Cahill, Conal Kelly, Conrad Duffy, Niall Dorman, Conor Quigg, Hugh O’Reilly, Rory Finnegan, Mark Cummings, Ben Matthews, Fintan McBride, Conor McKeague and Conor McCann.
Four trophies in one year. Unprecedented. Bring on 2004/2005