Early December saw the visit of former Mary’s star and current captain of League of Ireland champions Dundalk FC Stephen O’Donnell to his old alma mater. Stephen gave a very informative Q&A session to all those involved in soccer in the school. During his sessions he highlighted many of the pitfalls associated with a life of a professional soccer player in England, telling his eager audience all about the greats he played with, the stadiums, the tough opponents, the managers, the injuries and the goals! And we lapped it up!! Stephen certainly has traveled a long way from his days in the black and red!!
With a new coaching team of Paul Concannon and David O’Boyle the seniors have made a promising start to the season so far. The annual Walter Burke Memorial Cup match against the Bish traditionally kicks off the season and so it was again this time round. Hopes weren’t too high going in to the match since the opposition team are the current Irish Champions at U-17. Nevertheless it was a very spirited outing for the boys in Red and Black as they fairly rattled their neighbours, before eventually succumbing to a 3 – 2 defeat. The match was in doubt right up to the last minute as the Mary’s boys pushed on in search of the elusive equaliser, but alas it was not to be this time.
The Connacht Cup campaign got off to a great start as we travelled to Oranmore and came away with a deserved 3 – 1 victory over Presentation Athenry. Highlight of the performance was the spectacular overhead bicycle kick from Tommy Molloy that left all who witnessed it gasping with delight! Sam Samson and also got themselves on the scoreboard as we ran out convincing winners of a match we controlled from start to finish.
A hard fought victory over Gort CS just before the mid-term break virtually ensured that we will qualify from our group and head into the quarter-finals of the Connacht Senior Cup. Seán Kelly, making a long anticipated comeback for the Soccer team, was imperious in defence, and his foray into the forward line resulted in the only goal of the game.
We confirmed our place at the top of the qualifying group with an emphatic 7 – 1 victory over Garbally College Ballinasloe in the middle of November. The Mary’s team were far too strong for their east Galway visitors as goals from Rob Carroll (2), Nathan Ward (2), Dessie Conneely, Kamil Szymaszek were enough to see us sfaely into the quarter-final stages.
Our U-15’s started the season in style with an excellent 2 – 1 victory over St. Enda’s. Well done lads.
The lads traveled all the way down to take on St. Aloysius of Athlone in their next group game and emerged with a hard fought 2 -2 draw in what was atrocious conditions. It is good to see continuous improvement from a team that lost all their matches last season!
Facing the All-Ireland runners up at the best of times is a daunting task, facing them on a cold wet miserable December Tuesday in the run-up to Christmas even more so! And so it proved to be as Oranmore ran out comfortable 5 – 0 winners over a battling Mary’s team. Just a measure of the standards that have to be reached to compete at the top table. Onwards and upwards!!
The first Friday of the new year saw us face our local rivals from St. Joseph’s in our second group match. It was a tough and hard fought encounter which saw us unfortunately emerge on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline. We conceded a penalty on the stroke of half-time, then spurned numerous chances when chasing the game, the ball somehow staying out of the Bish net. Then to compound matters we conceded again, putting the match beyond our reach. We now face St. Aloysius Athlone in a match we must win to progress.
The highly fancied U-17 team got their campaign off to a very dodgy start when they struggled to contain a Ballyhaunis team that arrived intent on victory. It was a tough hard battle and it took a last gasp equalizer to ensure a share of the points, the final score ending up 3 – 3
Connacht A Quarter Final
St. Mary’s College 2
Presentation Athenry 2
(St. Mary’s won 5:4 on penalties)
Following a tough match in Athenry our first year team progressed to the Connacht semi-final when Hayden Drury buried his penalty into the top corner of the net to secure the victory. Athenry scored first in real time when goalkeeper Rykelmy Rodrigues conceded a penalty early in the first half. However, this was soon cancelled out by a goal from Tresor Sangi. He then put Mary’s into the lead when he scored just before half-time.
Athenry came back at us with renewed vigour in the second half and half way through the second half they secured an equaliser which was the final score of the game. No side were able to make the breakthrough in extra-time so we found ourselves in the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Here Rykelmy made up for his earlier mistake in giving away a penalty by saving two and so we march on.
After a long wait and a number of trial matches, our first year team, under the guidance of Mr. Richie Bell, Mr. Ronan Faherty and Mr. Michael Murphy, finally took to the famed Mary’s field for their first match and came away with a well deserved victory over Coláiste na Coirbe.
Playing together for the first time they obviously still have a bit of polishing to do but they showed that they are well capable of being a considerable force in the months and years to come. There were a number of excellent performances right throughout the pitch, in particular from Blake Cummins, Rykelmy Rodrigues, Dessie Costello-Hynes and Paul Kelly, and both scores in a 2-1 victory came from Enoch Abiodun.