St Mochta’s manager Brian McCarthy had more than one reason to be happy as his side lifted the Tommy Clements Cup for the first time on Sunday.
A dramatic penalty shoot-out win over fellow LSL Sunday Senior Side Portmarnock earned them the trophy at the AUL Complex.
Picking up their first silverware of the season before it’s even started was nice but, with pitches around Dublin rock hard, more important was getting four games on pristine pitches.
The AUL’s football complex by the airport has its own private water supply – meaning it’s not affected by the hosepipe ban that’s been declared since the rain dried up.
“When it was put to me about going into [the Tommy Clements], you were guaranteed three game,” McCarthy tells the Dublin Gazette.
“The way the weather turned out with no water on the pitches, the pitches are rock hard. They have their own well in the AUL so it turned out to be a blessing that we took it.
“To get another game out of it [the final] was a bonus as well. Four games in a week for the lads to get some match sharpness, which is what’s important at this point.”
Former Drogheda United striker Sam O’Connor had given Porto the lead early in the first half with a well-taken close-range finish.
It was a lead they held onto until the very last minute, when Karl Somers capped off a fine team move to force a penalty shoot-out.
New signing Craig Hyland, who hasn’t played for two years since leaving Shamrock Rovers to train as a fireman, was the hero as he saved two penalties to give Mochta’s a 4-2 win.
“One of the lads of the team, Craig is in the fire brigade with him, and that’s how it came around. We got in touch with him. His whole presence, his distribution, everything is top-quality.”
McCarthy has also brought in ex-Drogheda defender Mick Daly, who retired from professional football two years ago with a bad back injury, Kenny Carr, Eoin Murray and Glenn Shannon.
Mochta’s title defence last season ended with an 11th place finish, but would have finished fourth if not for a 3-2 win over Bangor Celtic being reversed and awarded to the Crumlin side.
Both management and players were in agreement that huge improvements needed to be made over the summer, however, and the squad have returned with a renewed hunger.
“We just weren’t good enough last season and that’s the truth. We didn’t do ourselves justice last year and, whether you win it or you don’t win it, you’ve got to be up there and challenging for it.
“In fairness, in pre-season with the lads so far they’ve stuck to their word and they’ve meant what they said and been committed. I’m delighted with the way things have gone.”