“ Winning isn’t everything: it's the only thing “
This was Vince Lombardi’s uncompromising message to the Green Bay Packers when he addressed the team as its new coach on the first day of training camp in 1959.
Never was a phrase more apt than that tonight as we put a disappointing club championship campaign behind us and delivered an opening two points vs Shannon Rangers.
It will do nicely for now and hopefully build confidence as we await the losers of tomorrow’s encounter between Mid Kerry and Spa - the losers will have to visit Strand Road next week and the two points on offer are a huge incentive which would propel us to the quarter finals of the competition.
Tonight’s encounter was not without its flaws but it can be a morale booster for the upcoming games and showing commendable fight and footballing nous we secured a five point win.
In the opening half we played with the aid of a stiff breeze with scores coming tit for tat in the first quarter but when Darragh O’Connor found space to put Tom Hoare through, his powerful shot, though parried by the keeper was too strong and the green flag was raised - however, the next 3 points came from the Shannonsiders and the sides were level 1-02 to 0-05 after 10 mins.
It was the final quarter that we asserted our superiority with Tom Hoare being the most prominent player on view - his fielding, work rate and overall dominance was proving too much for the opposition and in shooting 3 points on the trot, and five points to one in total we led at the half time whistle by 4, 1-09 to 0-08.
The opening score of the 2nd half came from Gazza, who had a fine game overall and by the 10th minute we had raced into a 5 point lead, 1-14 to 0-12 following good scores from Conor and a pointed free from Tom, two efforts from Gazza and another from Tommy.
The 10th minute saw the game turned on its head when first Mikey Boyle fielded on the edge of the square and instead of taking his mark, he found Kevin Goulding on the run and who rifled a shot to the bottom of the net despite the best efforts of the recalled Shane Foley.
This left just two points between the sides and before the kick out was taken, the referee having consulted with his umpires issued a 2nd yellow to Jake Foley for an off the ball incident which was a big body blow with over 20 mins remaining and facing the stiff breeze.
However, showing commendable resilience and dynamism we outscored the opposition by 0-06 to 0-1 with scores from Barry John, Ben, Tom (2), David (2) to secure a well merited and deserved win.
Shane Foley's save too in the 52nd minute was a vital intervention and demonstrated his concentration and expertise.
There were many positives to be taken from tonight, not least the performance of Tom Hoare who was imperious at midfield - his tally of 1-07, 1-03 from play allied to the fight and defiance displayed when reduced to 14 augurs well for tougher tasks ahead.
It was good to see Ryan Carroll return too in place of the injured Darragh McElligott, and he brought a calming influence to the defence.
Tonight also saw us launch our alternative strip - we are indebted to our sponsors Higgins Waste and Recycling who commissioned Paul Galvin to design a jersey.
His creation, The Boy from Tralee commemorates Strand Road man, Charlie Kerins, county championship medal winner in 1939 with Strand Road and is bound to be a much sought after piece of memorabilia.
Orders for jerseys can be placed via Messenger on Facebook or e-mailing : firstname.lastname@example.org
Shane Foley, Jake Foley, Ross O’Callaghan, Ryan Carroll, Shane McElligott, Shane Brosnan, Ben Hanafin (0-2), David Moran (0-3, 1f), Tom Hoare (1-7, 4f), Gearóid Savage (0-3), Barry John Keane (0-1f), Con Barrett, Darragh O’Connor (0-1f), Tommy Walsh (0-2), Conor Hayes (0-1) Subs: Conor O’Sullivan for D O’Connor, 46, Diarmuid O’Sullivan (0-1f)for C Hayes, 52, Daniel Bowler for G Savage, 53, Paudy Griffin for BJ Keane, 60(+4)