McGrath High School footballers danced for the massive cheering crowd yesterday after completing the toppling of a schoolboy football giant, Rusea’s High, out of Hanover.
McGrath, with no football glory in its background, scored 2-1 on aggregate to send the 11-time champion crashing out of the prestigious ISSA/WATA daCosta Cup Football Competition.
“We did not come in this game with a negative frame of mind; at no point we were defending,” said Jermaine Thomas, coach of the St Catherine-based McGrath.
He added: “We pressed them from minute one to minute 90; we weren’t backing off. They are the 11-time champions; we didn’t have anything to lose; I think they had everything to lose.”
Rasheed Brown placed Rusea’s ahead in the 66th minute of play, but Jordon Hylton responded for McGrath in the dying moments of the fiery clash to end the game 1-1. Despite that draw on the return leg, McGrath progressed because it defeated Rusea’s 1-0 in their first encounter three days earlier.
McGrath’s coach, Thomas, pictured on the left above, said the draw yesterday showed character.
“It was unfortunate for us to concede so late in the match, but we fought back. That shows character; that shows strength and determination… We came in without fear and we played,” he said, adding that his team strategically placed a lot of pressure on Rusea’s star Kenroy Campbell.
Thomas told The Beacon that he is elated for the historic success his squad has been reaping; this year passing the first round for the first time since it started participating in 1994.
“It is an achievement of course, but you don’t want to get carried away,” the McGrath High coach said, noting that the quarter finals will be tougher.
“Myself, along with the backroom staff, will have to now work on the players’ psychic, get their arousal levels to manageable areas. You don’t want them overly aroused or too aroused; that can be trouble,” Thomas explained.
He continued: “We want to celebrate and feel good about this big big achievement, but we are gonna regroup and get ready for the quarterfinals.”
In the quarterfinals – Group 4 to be exact, McGrath High will face St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), Happy Grove High, and BB Coke High School.
Meanwhile, Manager for Rusea’s High, Dwayne Ambusley, told The Beacon that the game yesterday was tough.
“It was just a tough game and I think the guys did the best they could under the circumstances. It is going to take a couple of days for it to really sink in, but we have to move on; this is football,” he added.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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