With the New York Cup on the line, the James Connolly Albany Rebels failed to beat the Buffalo Fenians in a winner-take-all match in Albany on Saturday, drawing 1-11 (14 points) to 2-8 (14 points). Because of Albany’s loss to Syracuse earlier in the day and Buffalo’s win against Syracuse immediately afterward, the league title went to Buffalo.
In the match against Buffalo, the Rebels took an early lead by converting points from distance. But they surrendered two sloppy goals to Buffalo in the last three minutes of the first half, giving up the lead, and going into halftime down four points.
Albany battled back in the second half, getting the better of the build-up play and bringing more physicality. Ian Maher scored a huge goal after his initial shot was saved by the goalkeeper, but Maher collected the rebound and kicked it into the net from inside the 6 meter box.
Mark Adam (pictured right) scored the go-ahead point with four minutes left in the match, firing a left-footed shot from in front of the goal that was deflected over the crossbar. Buffalo tied the match on a free from the midfield line on the next possession after Adam committed a foul on a hard hit.
Albany missed their final few scoring chances in the waning moments of the game, which ended in a draw. Maher (1 goal and 1 point), Adam (four points) and Cillian Flavin (four points) led the team in scoring.
“The Buffalo game was some of the best football we have ever played,” said Flavin, who was named Albany’s Man of the Match. “We had plenty of chances to take the game but we just weren’t clinical enough. On another day, with the number of goal chances we had, we should have beaten Buffalo. The lads did a fantastic job and we will push Buffalo very hard for the title next year.”
In the 3-6 (15 points) to 0-2 (2 points) loss to Syracuse, Albany struggled to keep possession and create quality scoring chances while playing in a driving rainstorm. Paul Acosta scored both of Albany’s points in the match.
Spencer Bassette (pictured right) and Mike Lee split goalkeeping duty in both matches, making some key saves and providing steady kickouts.
Following the matches, the Rebels hosted their fans as well as the Buffalo and Syracuse players at the Irish Hall on Ontario Street.
Though the Rebels missed their chance at winning the league, they did draw positives from the competition, notably, a 1-1-1 record against a well-established club in Buffalo. In those three matches, Albany outscored Buffalo 52-37.
“It’s a bitter way for it to end,” Adam said. “All of our guys have worked so hard this season and we’ve made great strides as a team, but we just had some missed opportunities. I hope this makes us hungrier as we move forward.”
Rebels Notes: With 22 players dressed for the 7s matches, Albany split their squad with one group playing Syracuse and the other playing Buffalo … Rookie Mike Nolan made his Gaelic football debut against Syracuse … Connor Stark scored his first career 45 in the second half of the Buffalo game … Albany’s 9-game winning streak against Syracuse was snapped with the loss … Albany is trying to schedule a home-and-home series with Hartford for this fall.