Welcome to the 2017 version of the STLGAC Gaelic Football City League.
Our polished journalists will be keeping the world abreast of all the on (and potentially off) field action all season long right here on STLGAC.com. So please check in weekly for match results, commentary, insights, rumors and general craic.
With the team reveal concluding only just last night at the Pat Connolly Tavern, we haven’t had much time to digest the team sheets. However here in the newsroom, we never rest. Sometimes you need some training wheels to get through the task at hand, and here at HQ the Tito’s and Red Bull quite possibly could be said training wheels.
Without further ado, let’s dig into the 4 teams contending for this season’s Monkey Cup.
St. Charles Ancient Order of Hibernians
Captains Joe Kinealy (r) and John Beard (l)
Juan Villa Torrecilla
When I look at this roster, I immediately think ‘BEEFY’. Make no mistake – this is going to be one physical team. In fact, this writer has personally shown a red or yellow card to at least half of these people over the years.
What to Watch For:
This team is chock full of veterans, so no matter how a match is going you’d be a fool to count them out. There are more former champions than not on this roster. Also as I alluded to above, these guys (and ladies) are flat out bruisers. Both of the Orbin brothers have been known to step well over the line in terms of physicality. Tim Buckley is a solid, tenacious presence on the pitch and the only question on the day is what shade of yellow card would he prefer. Jeff Brown is essentially a man-child and will run over anyone or anything to make a play. Greg Hake is a tall, strong individual and will be a presence in the air. And then you’ve got Pete (Pedro) DaPrato. All this guy does is win stuff. Touched by the hand of God, (surely his family emigrated from Rome) this guy hasn’t ever been on a sub-.500 team as far as I can remember – and we go pretty far back. The 2 Captains themselves are nothing to sneeze at either. Both will make massive contributions on and off the pitch for this team.
This is a playoff team. I expect to see them in the Monkey Cup Final. If these old farts can stay injury free, they’ll do some damage. This isn’t a run and gun team, but they will be steady, smart and solid. They could be in danger if attendance is an issue, as some of the younger and faster teams could take advantage of the space on the pitch when AOH STC wears down. Overall, a well drafted team by Captains Kinealy and Beard.
Ferguson Brewing Company
Captain Sterling Hayden (not pictured: Scott Stevens)
When I look at this team, I see effort, graft, grind, sweat, heart. There is no quit in this roster. On top of that, Sterling always has a plan in his draft. I have learned not to question his judgement and it’s easy to see the direction he intends to take this season. This is mos def a blue collar team.
What to Watch For:
I have to say, it’s a good thing they have a lot of heart on this team – they’re going to need it. I see some ‘boom or bust’ potential here. There will likely be some attendance issues in my opinion, and hard work will only go so far… If Joe Byrne – who is without doubt the most talented player in this league – shows up for 50-75% of the matches, this is a very solid Monkey Cup final team. If the lad is AWOL, they will have to rely heavily on captain Hayden, LFC Youth Academy leader Mike Keane and ‘ol Bobby O. If you look up ‘desire’ in the Oxford English, there is a photo of Bob O’Mahony plain as day. This man can simply force a team to perform just by his effort. He will pull the last bit of effort out of each of his teammates. And not to leave out Andrew Malone, as solid a player as we have in the league. The question there is when he will hit peak form. Can he sprint out of the gates and impact the match, or will it take him 3 matches to get up to snuff? Questions abound. Luckily we will start seeing some answers on Saturday.
Like I say, all or nothing with this group. They could go on a mad run and devastate teams or they could have slim attendance and be .500. I do believe in Sterling’s draft nous though, so I expect to see this team battling for a spot in the Monkey Cup final more likely than not.
Captains Ryan Lobbig (r) and Ryan Hallows (l)
Leo Perez Mereno
This is a fit and talented team. The 2 captains themselves will lead by example. This group will be able to mix it up on the physical side as well, with a few players that also moonlight with rugby. Plenty of good veteran experience here too. A very steady side that won’t hit the valleys, but may not quite reach the peaks either.
What to Watch For:
This side, far more than the other 3, will rely HEAVILY on their captains this season. If ‘The Ryans’ can rise to their potential from the off, I see good things ahead for this lot. If they struggle to get a grip on the match from the whistle, this team will have to slog it out each week. A force in the middle of the pitch, tall and lanky Mike Guinn will be key in transition from defense to offense. If not man-marked by a skilled defender, he could dominate the flow of the match. Brian Hendrick is another talented piece to this Happy Apple puzzle. A veteran of the game, he’s as good a teammate as you could ask for. Selfless, experienced, positive are all adjectives pointing to Brian. Fitness is a question mark for your man though. We all get beat up over the course of the Fall – can BH stay on the pitch and out of the infirmary? Again, a lot of smart veterans in the red and black as well. That experience will be a huge asset in keeping this team from hitting any significant slumps in play. Will the skilled pieces of this roster perform to put the Apples over the bar?
If the Ryan’s can lead by example AND the team has a good strategy week in / week out, the Apples could be dangerous. Nothing about the roster screams out ‘oh dear!’ – which will work to their favor. Underestimate this team at your own peril. The key here will be having everyone moving in the same direction each week with a solid game plan. If disorganization somehow seeps in, we could see some very bad apples. The kind that turn your stomach and make you frequent the spartan loos at St. Vincent’s Park. But I remain positive and see these Apples in contention for the MC Final.
The Pat Connolly Tavern
Captains Landon Zirkelbach (l) and Shane Brennan (r)
Talent. Loads of it. This could be a dominant team. When this team was announced last night, I was thinking ‘how did this happen?’. I favor the PCT to appear in the Monkey Cup. However, things can happen. All things being equal, this roster is a championship team. Again, we have to see who shows up week in and week out.
What to Watch For:
Captain Landon Zirkelbach is the backbone of this team. Landycakes, with his thighs of thunder, could squat his mom… and my mom… and probably your mom too… simultaneously. He knows the game inside and out and is experienced enough to make tactical changes on the fly. Not only is the PCT talented and skilled, but they will have top level organization and strategy to go along with it. Matt Green is one of those athletes that is good at damn near everything without even trying and his impact could be huge – depending on his availability. Mike Reynolds comes off of gardening leave to feature in this season, but how fit is he? The last time I saw Mr. Reynolds, Obama was still making decisions. Shane ‘what’s the craic?’ Brennan is also champing at the bit to get the season underway and his attitude is infectious. He will rally these boys and girls every minute on the pitch. Let’s not forget Tony Cowin’s impact either. This guy pushes himself every step of the way. He’s a fantastic teammate and makes everyone around him better. If there is enough oil on hand to lube up the ‘ol joints and he’s able to stay on the pitch, he’s as valuable as anyone on this team.
A spot in the Monkey Cup Final is theirs to lose, essentially. They will well and truly have a target on their back all season. If they keep their head down and concentrate on the effort rather than letting the talent carry them, they will be tough to beat. I think if they can start off the season 3-0, they could very possibly run the table. If they suffer a shocker in the first few however, the wheels could come off. My bet is the PCT lives up to expectations and finishes in the top spot at the end of league play.
Thank you all for reading! Your feedback is always welcome and if there are certain features you’d like to see, just let us know. This is a work in progress and we aim to give the people what they want.
Look for exciting updates in the future and make sure you check back in periodically.