In doing so, Paddy McCarry’s Invincibles completed the season undefeated as league and cup champions, a historic double that the Donegal gaffer described as his biggest achievement in the game.
On a day of firsts, it was also an unprecedented achievement for the Cosmopolitan Soccer League, which had never delivered a state champion at this level.
It’s the second double of the season for the Rocks as a whole, following in the footsteps of the women’s team coached by Paddy Geraghty, who is a quadruple champion having played a starring role in the Over 30s campaign, culminating in this thrilling final at the Verrazano Sports Complex in Brooklyn.
Long Island kingpins Baisley went ahead midway through the first half, but the Rocks rallied and equalized before half-time through Sean Riley, who played out of his skin on the left flank.
After a cagey opening to the second half, two quick goals put the Rocks 3-1 to the good. Alex Berne’s brilliant glancing header to the far post was followed by a beautifully chipped goal from Johnny McGeeney, who soldiered throughout with a groin injury.
In spite of going down to ten men, Baisley proceeded to throw everything at the Shamrocks and dominated for a ten-minute spell, deservedly narrowing the gap to a goal after a tap-in from a well-delivered corner.
But once again, McCarry’s men responded excellently with organized defending and dangerous counterattacking.
With time almost up, McGeeney did superbly to keep the ball in on the left sideline and then opted to fire goalwards, his 45-yard rocket hitting the far corner, sparking wild celebrations as the referee blew for full time.
“This was definitely the biggest achievement in my football life,” said the delighted McCarry. “Watching this bunch of players lifting that State Cup was a dream come true.
“I would like to thank the whole squad for their massive effort throughout the whole season and I want to thank the club for giving us everything we needed to succeed this year,” he added. “As well as John Riordan for all the stuff he does for us behind the scenes that goes unseen.
“Finally this would not have happened without my assistant coach and club president Sean McMullan,” he continued. “We worked great together and he ran the team a lot this year when I was missing.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Grogan’s first team ensured there would be one final day out for the club, advancing to next Sunday’s CSL League Cup final courtesy of a 2-1 win over NYPD-Brishna.
Joey Zorbo scored what he described as the goal of the season, a perfectly struck effort from the right corner of the box to the far corner of the net. The winner from Chris Uy was his fourth of the season.
“I’m very happy with the win,” said Grogan. “But if I evaluate the game honestly, I feel we were immature a small bit at certain times of the game. We are an evolving squad and we learn all the time.”
It was a great season for the Rocks 1960, but they couldn’t round it out at the Metro 2 championship game in Randall’s Island, succumbing 3-0 to a talented Williamsburg outfit.
And Connolly’s men set their stall out well and took it as far as the hour mark before the Brooklyn boys took a deserved lead and never looked back.
“We’re happy with the season overall,” said Connolly. “We can now look forward to the step-up to Metro 1 and this game showed us how challenging that will be.”
In Thursday night’s CSL Division 1 reserves playoff semifinal, Stevie Doyle’s Rocks were very unlucky not to advance to Sunday’s decider after a penalty shoot-out loss to the Lansdowne Bhoys.
Man of the match Nick Meola ensured the game stayed scoreless for the 90 minutes, however the home side were flawless in a 6-5 penalties win. Darren Freeman, Darren Coleman, Joey Aronovsky, Colum McComish and Marc Vilson all scored for the Rocks before Pierre Meloty-Kapella missed the decisive sixth.