Quick minds but tired limbs as Hamilton Parish win Masters Cup Final
Minds were quite willing yet limbs proved unable to dispel the realities wrought upon ageing muscle and sinew during Saturday’s Masters Cup Finals matches, but those contrasting notions conspired to produce a pair of entertaining affairs at Devonshire Rec on Saturday.
Included was some medical drama that produced significant concern for players and spectators alike, as all four outfits on display ended the worse for wear and resembling veritable MASH units.
Each match required penalty shootouts to decide matters, with Hamilton Parish the biggest winners on the day as they defeated Somerset Extros by virtue of a sudden-death conversion by Devon Rogers in the eighth round of kicks after the two sides stood level at 2-2 at the end of regulation.
The delirium that erupted as Rogers’ powerful, right-foot blast slammed against goalkeeper Lorenzo Lambert’s right stanchion was fitting for any major cup final, with revelry made of equal parts relief and triumph.
While Rogers’ match-winning heroics concluded matters, starring on the day were Somerset’s Shawn Riley and Rodney Trott of Hamilton Parish, a pair of two-sport athletes with scoring as their calling cards.
A Former Trojans midfielder, who also performs as a cricket all-rounder for Somerset Bridge, Riley accounted for a hat-trick of goals, slamming in two in regulation and one in the penalty shootout.
Trott, more known for his exploits as a former Bermuda cricket captain and St George’s Cup Match star, countered Riley’s regulation-time brace with two of his own but, after converting from the spot in normal time, had his shootout penalty saved by a diving Lambert.
“I got caught up in two minds and, especially when you’ve taken a penalty and scored, it’s always a decision with the next one,” said Trott, who was effusive in his praise of his team-mates for sacrifices made and effort given throughout the season.
“To be honest it was a team effort. We guys have been playing hard from the beginning of the season, where everybody has been coming out and giving a big effort so this is what happens when you stick together as a team and you put your best foot forward.
“The last three games that we played actually went to penalty shootouts, so I was pretty confident because we won our last two games. But, like I said, it was a team win, where our goalkeeper made four key saves in the penalty shootout, so everybody contributed to the victory.
“Our senior team did well this year, the first time up in the Premier Division in coming fifth so I guess it filtered down to us a little bit. And we’ve had guys giving up time with their families to come out on Saturdays all season, so hats go off to the team.”
While explaining how some of his teammates favoured added conventional play, Trott was in abject opposition to the concept of extra time for those of ancient pedigree.
“A lot of those guys were saying this game should have went to extra time, but I wasn’t trying to hear that,” said Trott, well aware of an older body’s limitations and the potential risks of further abuse.
“Penalties after 90 minutes was the right thing to do because guys still have to get up on Monday and go to work, so you don't want to kill guys.”
Riley, a 49-year-old father of seven appearing in similar size and shape, with more muscle and only slightly diminished in form from his days playing top-flight football terrorised the Parish defence throughout.
Darting runs along the flanks, where he shed markers more than a decade his junior and close ball skills that twisted opponents in ways that made old muscles cry in rebellion, stamped him as the top performer, yet it was not enough to overcome a resilient, if a tad less spicy, Hot Peppers side.
Asked of his discovery of the fountain of youth, Riley highlighted his love of sports and a daily fitness regimen as key to his spry longevity.
“I just keep myself in shape. I love the game and I keep myself fit by playing cricket. I do a little gym work and I’m still playing my ball so I stay active and healthy,” said Riley, who admitted to not quite possessing all the virility of his youth.
“I don’t feel like it right now, but it’s all fun. Everybody here still loves the game, so as long as I still love it and can still play, I will.”
While grateful for being able to find the back of the net on three occasions, Riley wished his exploits had resulted in an Extros victory.
“I would have rather had that hat-trick in a win, but somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose. I look forward to next year and getting back here.”
The day’s curtain-raiser between Flanagan’s and North Village Rams also ended 2-2, but it was a scene in the middle of the pitch during the closing stages that provoked grave concern from players and spectators alike, as Flanagans’ midfielder Darren Choonucksing fell to the turf, where he remained for more than ten minutes while going through the process of an epileptic seizure.
The condition precipitated a call for emergency medical assistance, with paramedics being thwarted in their attempt to enter the grounds from the field-level entrance on Palmetto Road.
Emergency medical technicians eventually gained access via the main gate on Frog Lane, by which time the player had stopped convulsing and regained a degree of equilibrium, but he was taken away for evaluation at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, where he is understood to have fully recovered.
“He’s messaging us that he’s OK, so were glad to report that everything’s alright with him,” said team manager Steve Woodward. “He’s come through it okay and we hope that everything’s fine with him and we’re looking forward to him coming out and celebrating with us later.”
The match featured Shervin Jennings as Rams’ chief protagonist, scoring twice in reponse to Onions taking the leads, while Gavin Thomason and Andrew Forstar accounted for the goals by the pub side.
Flanagans scored their first four penalties with two Rams misses granting them the win.
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