Day 3 - Hot Stuff 2018-03-29 23:20:00


First, some breaking news.

This is of particular importance to members of Athlone Tennis Club.

If Eoghan’s Dad, Jimmy, challenges you to a game and nonchalantly suggests a wager on the side you should be aware that he is taking Tennis lessons out here in Malta.

Sounds like a bit of a racket to me but thought you should know!

Meanwhile we had rocket fuel for breakfast.

The impact of last night’s Team Meeting is showing. Any amount of porridge, every variety of fruit, and yogurt of every flavour. Not a sign of a rasher. Not a sausage! Healthy food only! Rocket Fuel only.

Outside it is roasting! We thought yesterday was hot but it is nothing as compared to today. Even the locals concede that this is seriously hot. The hottest day of the year so far in Malta. A few lads got sun burn yesterday on the back of the neck – farmer tan! We will be lashing on the Sun Factor today!

After breakfast we got water and then rested up ahead of our first big game. Our bus was at the Hotel for 12 noon to bring us to the Venue, the Victor Tedesco Stadium in Hamrun.

It was good of Shane K to lay on the transport with his “SK Transport”. He kept that one quiet.

The Stadium is class. Different to anything we usually play in. There is a big Stand on one side with seating for more than 2,000 with huge panes of reinforced glass at the front. (They must have heard the Temple Villa lads were coming). The pitch is Astro-Turf and there are two clubhouses/bars/cafe in two corners. Our dressing room was under the big Stand. Huge with an Ice Machine. Perfect for this weather!

We got the chance to see some of the other teams play but we are focusing on ourselves. Brian is sick and unable to play. Otherwise we are all good to go.

Our warm-up was good but wow is it hot! 23 degrees for kick-off!

Our game kicked off at just after 2.30pm.

                                     ADSL       3    :      PAOLA   HIBS      1  

The perfect finish to give us the perfect start!

We started the game well. Working hard despite the weather and played very well in the opening half.

We had two very good chances before we took the lead. In the 5th minute Danny headed over from almost under the crossbar off a great Bobby corner kick. Then 2 minutes later a super ball from Eoghan put Danny in who raced clear of the defence and did everything right in shooting low across the face of the goal with the ball going just wide off the far post.

We went in front on 12 minutes. Biyi was brilliant in the build-up finding Danny in the box. He still had to battle to make room to shoot but did so and hammered the ball to the net from close range. 1-0!

Good football and good passing created a chance for Shane Han but it was well saved. Then just before half-time Danny got on the end of Biyi’s pass but just ran out of room in front of goal.

We deserved to be ahead at the break. We were very good in that first half and particularly in the first fifteen minutes.

Hibs had an early second half chance to equalise. We gifted them the chance and they claimed the ball had crossed the line but the Referee did not agree.

We came nearest to stretching our lead when Bobby’s free kick was finger-tipped out of the top corner. A quality save.

Then with less than five minutes to go we conceded a very poor goal. They went mad. As did the large crowd. We tired in the heat and they came into it the longer it went on but we felt we did enough to win and it was frustrating now to be hanging on.

But the lads showed great character and went out to win the game for a second time.

We counter-attacked from a corner. David claimed a corner kick and quickly threw the ball out to Joseph who carried the ball into their half before passing to Danny. The ball was worked out to Eoghan on the left who put in a great shot at the near post to find the net. What a response!

But we were not done yet. In the last seconds Danny scored a screamer and it was our turn and that of our small but vocal support to roar and shout. Amazing! Danny showed great quick feet to beat three defenders as he cut in from the left and then curled a low shot beyond the keeper and inside the far post. It was a great goal and typified our character on the day.

It was a great finish to a very tough game to give us a perfect start to the Tournament.

It was a very happy dressing room after but nobody was getting carried away. That was hard work. We nearly blew it and we are fairly knackered. But we refused to lose or draw the game and that sheer will to win is a great trait to have in any side.

Back to the hotel and into the Swimming Pools – the heated indoor and the cold outdoor pool. The group is buzzing. The mood is sky high. What a feeling! Happily Brian is feeling much better. That is good.

Then it was time for dinner and we are very hungry. Dinner was good and it is amazing how many of the other guests come up to ask how we got on today or to congratulate us on our win. That is mad!

Our Russian friends were among our well wishers. Those Russians have some nerve! Gas isn’t it?

Then we had some down time and time on the phones to contact home and friends or simply to mess about.

Darragh and Sam O’s Barber Shop also opened. Zak was the first victim I mean ... customer. He got the full works much to the appreciation and fascination of the rest of the Group with the occasional helpful suggestion or constructive criticism. Zak seemed happy enough with his haircut. We are not sure what his mother will make of it. I suppose it will always grow back. Eventually.  You really could not make this stuff up!

Then we had a Team Meeting. We had the game today fully recorded and David has somewhere found time to take out extracts and to show us areas where we did well and where we can improve. It also gave a better illustration of what we are trying to do with our shape and formation. Great information and great education. We never got a chance to review Bobby’s diving but that can wait.

Thanks by the way to Mike Campion for the camera work today.

After all that it was time to hit the hay! We have an early start tomorrow. It is Good Friday and a bit like home not a lot goes on but we do have a friendly but it is early in the morning with a 9.15am kick-off.

So an early start but we are flying down and can’t wait to play again.

It is a very happy, if a little tired, group that signs off after a fantastic Day 3. What a fantastic trip so far.

Stay tuned folks!


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