It was an early start for the merry band of Ignatian Vets and their supporters as we gathered at the clubhouse for an 8.15am departure to Chiswick. Some like our captain Tony and Jim Kerr had made a bit more effort than others (me included) by donning a shirt and tie for the occasion.
We arrived with a squad of 16 and in the warm up Tony apologised ahead of the game saying that he wasn't sure who if any of those on the subs bench would get a game. As things turned out 3 of them got a lot more time then they would have expected.
We lined up against the holders of the trophy with Duncan Hunt in goal, a back four of Paul O'Grady, Dennis Watson, Tony Brady and myself. In midfield we had Jim Kerr, Peter O'Grady, Mark Palmer and John O'Grady. Up top was Matt Weinhart and Peter Lynch. On the bench were Phil McLaughlin, Peter O'Rourke, John Farrell, Steve Kelly and Dave O'Grady. In the crowd were John Wittam, Rob Lowry, Mick Hollywell.... (only joking - I'm not really going to name them all).
We started slowly and were guilty of giving the ball away too much which put us on the back foot but having said that we nearly took the lead when John O'Grady clipped the ball just past the far post after the oppo centre backs had collided. However when we again lost the ball the oppo won a throw in on their right.The ball was hurled in and a flick at the near post saw the ball drop towards their centre forward. I thought he was going to let the ball run across him and so took half a step to my right but he instead turned sharply and shot right footed into the bottom corner.
Following that blow we then fell further behind when one of their players stole ahead of Tony and in his attempt to recover the situation he ended up bringing him down for a penalty. Duncan guessed right but just failed to reach it and we were now two down.
At this point the game became like an episode of Casualty as before half-time we lost Paul O'Grady, John O'Grady and Matt Weinhart to injuries. They were replaced by Peter O'Rourke, Phil McLaughlin and John Farrell.
We started the second half well but after 10 minutes we seemed to run out of steam and ideas. The oppo then got a lucky break as Tony's headed clearance rebounded off Dennis's jaw into the path of their centre forward and he completed his hat-trick giving Duncan no chance.
The game was then drifting to it's apparant enivitable conclusion until we found some reserves of energy and began to create some chances. A ball was played into their box but was cleared to the edge where Peter O'Rourke was waiting. He struck it well and through a crowd of players which unsighted the keeper who could only parry it into the net.
Our tails were up but there was only a few minutes to go. Peter Lynch then had a half chance that drifted wide before Jim Kerr got to a near post corner only to see his low shot cleared off the line. Had one of those two chances gone in who knows what may have happened. As it was they didn't and so we again had to settle for picking up runners up medals yet again.
On the run of play the result was a fair one and we were just beaten by the better team on the day although the injuries definately had an impact on our performance. Hopefully if we can get this far next year we may have a bit more good fortune.
The man of the match award went to Peter O'Rourke with the Muppet going to Dennis Watson for letting the cenre forward score a hat-trick (a little harsh on Den). As a footnote I found out afterwards that the forward has a son at guess where... yep St Ignatius !!
A few beers were had in the bar after the game before the coach headed back to the Loyola for the commiserations to continue. Other than the result it was a good day out !!
Many thanks must go from the players to all those who made the effort to come along and watch the game at such an early hour (Mick Hollywell winning the most dedicated for driving across from Wales). We are just a little disappointed we couldn't provide you with a better result. The players would also like to thank Tony for his efforts as captain and we look forward to the emails starting up again next season.