Kettles on windscreens, woolly hats on heads and a cries of ”have you seen my gloves!” signalled the early morning start for the under 8′s first home game since mid-October. Belmont FC were the opposition this time out and having beaten their Dublin 4 opponents earlier in the season, Blessington’s confidence levels were justifiably higher than normal.
With 5 weeks having passed since the ground staff were tasked with having to prepare the pitch, the job proved even more difficult than normal, due to the heavy frost covering the ground. But once again, they battled the elements and managed to deliver a pitch fit for a king (and the rests of his team mates!)
The Perfect Pineapple
As the teams warmed up, the referee inspected the pitch and Gary O’Connor anxiously checked the weather on his phone. ”Zero degrees lads…. he mightn’t play it”
Images of John Motson’s Sheepskin coat ran through the coaches’ minds and after lengthy conversations, the referee finally announced. “It’s up to their manager, lads”
With all eyes on the opposition manager, he knelt down, picked up a handful of frozen grass and inspected it closely. With a deep breath, short exhale and a long pause he waited. The tension was unbearable. Finally he spoke.
The man from Belmont A, he says yes!
Who Shot JR
As the teams took their positions a touching minutes silence was observed in honour of the late great Larry Hagman, then without further ado, the whistle blew and the game kicked off.
A couple of tactical changes to the Blessington line-up this week saw Billy Moore tuck into a central midfield position and Zach Power leading the line up front. From the outset they were straight into the action and the opening minutes saw Blessington with plenty of ball, but try as they may they failed to create any clear-cut goal scoring chances. Mid-way through the half Billy Moore shipped a heavy knock to his ankle and was replaced by Aidan king in the Blessington engine room.
As the half dragged on it looked as though both teams would go into the break honours even. However, with a couple of minutes remaining, Jack Hardy won the ball on the edge box and in a scene reminiscent of Dallas, he got his target in sight, took aim and fired off an accurate shot from close range. Opening goal!
Half time whistle. 1-0 in front!
The second half saw the introduction of Jack McManus up front and Matthew Callinan joined Bobby Gray and Ciaran Clarke in defence while elsewhere, Patrick Foley was given the task of thawing out in central midfield. The pattern of play continued in the same vein as the first, with Blessington having all the ball but nothing to show for it. That was however, until poacher extraordinaire Jack McManus, tapped in from close range to score his 2nd league goal of the season. That seemed to settle the nerves and it wasn’t long before Zach Power got on the end of a Shane O’Connor pass and added a third Blessington goal.
To Belmont’s credit they never gave up heart and their big number 6 was finally rewarded for his efforts, when he slotted home a tidy finish to give Belmont a glimmer of hope for the remainder of the game. That hope however, was quickly extinguished, when an Aidan King fizzed a shot past the Belmont keeper and the result was put beyond doubt.
The remaining couple of minutes fizzled out and as the final whistle blew and the players shook hands, over on the sideline there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Was it the joy of watching another win? Was it the ice cold conditions? Or, was it the sudden realisation that next season’s series of Dallas, just won’t be the same.
Blessington Team: Patrick Foley, Ciaran Clarke, Bobby Gray, Jack Hardy, Billy Moore, Shane O’Connor, Zach Power, Aidan King, Matthew Callinan, Jack McManus