Lansdowne Bhoys player Craig Purcell charging at the ball during the game against Southie F.C on May 2nd, 2016. Hess Boys Photography
June 1st, 2017
Lansdowne Bhoys converted right back Craig Purcell and NY Greek Americans defensive midfielder Shaun Foster shared their thoughts—in separate pre-game interviews—before their teams go head-to-head in the semifinal on Thursday at Tibbet Brook Park Field 3 at 8:00 p.m.
The leading factor behind the anticipation of Lansdowne and NYGA’s clash on Thursday is that five NY Greek players are former Lansdowne players: Foster himself, Stephen Roche, who captained Lansdowne last year, Colin Murphy, Elliott Firth and Jimmy Nealis.
Purcell expressed how he feels about going against his old teammates.
“It’s a bit strange to be honest, might end up putting one of them through on goal,” Purcell joked. “Seriously though I have the upmost respect for all the lads, they’ve all contributed big or small to the success we’ve had over the last few years.”
“Stephen Roche coached me as a 15-year-old kid for St. Joseph’s boys in Dublin over 10 years ago and then playing alongside him here I’ve learned so much from him. But everyone knows once Thursday comes around, when that ball drops between two players for a tackle all friendships are forgotten about. It’ll be the same for both set of players. I’ll hate the lads for 90 minutes.”
NY Greek Americans midfielder Stephen Roche captained Lansdowne Bhoys last season. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
The feeling is mutual, Foster is also eager about going against his old side. “I’ve got a lot friends on that team,” Foster said. “I’m looking forward to it, it should be a good game.”
NY Greek Americans defensive midfielder Shaun Foster. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
The Irish-based club broke their 46-game unbeaten run in the league on April 29th as they fell to Cedar Stars Academy 2-1. They also lost their following game 1-0 to NY Pancyprian Freedoms on May 10th. The champions recovered from their slump by overpowering Shamrock 1-0 and Doxa SC 4-3.
Foster views Lansdowne’s losses as a mental weakness for them that his side can take advantage of.
“They haven’t been beating for a few years but they lost a couple of games recently so as a player I’m sure that puts a little doubt in your mind, hopefully we can play on that,” the midfielder said. “We think we’re as good as them. We don’t think they’re any better than us as a team. So we feel like we have a good chance, we’ll see what happens.”
Foster’s old teammate, Purcell, disagrees with him and sees his team’s two losses as a pressure releaser.
“People have kind of made a big deal over us losing the two games against Cedar Stars and Pancyprians,” the Irishman said. “But to be honest, it’s been a bit of a blessing, it relieved a lot of pressure off us, especially for the newer lads who now can just go out and show what they can do without worrying about anything else.”
“The loss against Cedar Stars was one of the best Lansdowne performances I’ve been part of so don’t let that broken record fool anyone into thinking we’re a worse team.”
The Greeks enter the playoffs on an 11-league-game unbeaten run.
“Obviously they’ve been on a good run but sometimes that can add extra weight on your shoulders,” Purcell says about their opponents’ non-losing streak.
“We are all aware that they have a lot of quality that can hurt us if we’re not 100 percent focused on our game from the first whistle to the last.”
NY Greek Americans have the best form in the CSL, riding an 11-game unbeaten run. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
Unlike Purcell, Foster views their form as a major advantage for them going into the game. “We’re the in-form team, I’m sure they will be worried about us as much as we’re worried about them,” he said.
He later added: “Form is crucial at the end of the season so we think we can win it all.”
Despite making the CSL semifinal, Lansdowne also reached the Manning Cup State final, the Werner Fricker Cup Regional final and the National Amateur Cup Regional final, which Purcell is thrilled of.
“Times like these are why we play football so we make sure we enjoy it and best way to enjoy it is to make sure we win,” he said. “It all starts with the semi against the Greeks this week.”
Lansdowne is undefeated in their last five CSL games against NYGA, beating them four times and drawing with them once, 1-1, last time they met on Dec. 10th, 2016.
The winner of the match will face NY Pancyprian in the final on June 9th.