Kevin Grogan's title-chasing Lansdowne Bhoys could make their final push for the Cosmopolitan Soccer League championship following the winter break without influential midfielders Sean Reilly and Erik Rengifo who are headed for trials in Ireland and Norway, respectively.
Reilly, who's 20 and was born in Westchester of a County Mayo dad and Derry mom, leaves for Ireland this Thursday where he will have tryouts with Airtricity League clubs Sligo Rovers, Derry City and UCD. The 22 year-old Colombian-born Rengifo, meanwhile, is in Norway being assessed by third division Drobak Frogn and Follo FK in the second tier.
Both youngsters thanked Grogan, a former Manchester United player, for facilitating the trials.
Reilly, a 20-year-old junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Rockland County, said the Lansdowne boss had made the UCD trial possible while Rengifo lauded Grogan for strongly recommending him to a Cypriot-based English scout.
"It's great playing with top players and a top coach in Kevin," Reilly, a Monroe, N.J., resident added.
Grogan, who in his one year with Lansdowne has taken the Bronx side from stragglers in the CSL top flight to title contenders, said he hoped that both Reilly and Rengifo are successful in their bid to play professional football.
"Both are young talented players and we're delighted to have them at Lansdowne. I hope it works out, it will create a good image for the club," the coach said.
ROCKS TO IRON CREASES
Shamrock FC hope to banish memories of a nightmarish fall campaign in the CSL when the winter break ends this weekend. The Rocks, who prop up the CSL Second Division, return to action against New York Ukrainians in the revived League Cup at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on Roosevelt Island.
The League Cup is for teams knocked out in the first round of the Flamhaft State Cup. Shamrock succumbed 1-0 to Port Chester of the Eastern District Soccer League last October, one of nine matches they lost in all competitions in the fall.
"It's a nice game to have before our first league match to iron out the creases," said assistant coach Glen Wrafter, who's optimistic that the hard work and recruiting done by the club during the three-month winter break will pay off.
"We have a few new players and hopefully we'll have a better second half of the season," he added.
On what went wrong in the fall during which Shamrock went 1-8-1 in league play and had to wait until the last game before the break for their win, Wrafter said: "Lack of depth was the problem. We have four to five new players now and are looking a lot stronger."
Player-coach Declan Condron has led Shamrock's weekly workouts Wednesday nights [8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.] at Chelsea Pier 40 on Manhattan's lower West Side. The Rocks share a training field with Manhattan Celtic and the two clubs have played training games ahead of the spring campaign. Celtic top the Division Two standings, 23 points ahead of Shamrock.
Shamrock's reserves and Over-30s also return to action this weekend.
The seconds play the Polonia reserves 10 am Sunday at McCarren Park in Brooklyn, while the Over-30s clash with New York Ukrainians 'B' in the Saunders Cup, another old competition that has been resuscitated.
The latter game kicks off 12 Noon at Bushwick Inlet in Brooklyn.