Cup hero Steacy ready to step up to be a Number 1

By Gerard Mulreaney

Shelbourne claimed back-to-back Leinster Senior League Cup titles following their penalty shoot-our victory over their Dublin rivals St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday evening. The hero for Shels on the night was goalkeeper Lee Steacy, who incidentally was battling a bad flu, as he picked up the man-of-the-match award.

The 25 year-old, who played with Bohs and Bray previously, was delighted to have played an important part in the win, “Its a huge confidence booster to win a cup and play as well as I did. Nice to receive a man of the match award too, it’s my first one! But physically I’m very sore. I’m dying with a flu so it’s 10 times worse!”

Beating a Premier Division side in a Cup Final, one known for playing attractive football, was especially pleasing, “Yeah it’s always nice to play against good footballing sides. It’s my first time playing against Pats and I was very impressed with them. They controlled a lot of the game.”

Shelbourne had a chance early in the second half to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty, but Pats goalkeeper Brendan Clarke saved James English’s effort. Greg Moorhouse then headed Shels in front from a Lorcan Fitzgerald corner on 83 minutes and they looked set to win 1-0. However, St Pats striker Achille Campion equalised with a header after a cross by Simon Madden in added time to send the game into extra-time.

Steacy pulled of some vitally important saves in extra-time, from both Dean Clarke and Conan Byrne, as Pats went in search of a winner. Neither side managed to add to the scoring so the game headed into a shoot-out.

After the first four penalties were scored Steacy actually saved Achille Campions effort, only for the referee to order a re-take for encroachment.

In sudden-death up stepped Pats centre-back Kevin Toner. His shot went low to Steacy’s left and the keeper saved.

Steacy said he was extremely confident when it came to the penalty shoot-out, “When I was growing up I was strong at saving penos but I went through a patch of not saving any for a while, so I’ve tweaked a thing or two and I’ve saved nearly every peno I’ve faced in games in the last two years,” he said.

You can view extra-time and the penalty shoot-out below;

“I know some people will say it’s only the Leinster Senior Cup but you don’t think about that when you’re playing in it and winning. It’s a great achievement and there aren’t many players who have a winners medal. Shels were the only Dublin club with a trophy last year and could potentially be the same this year so I guess that’s nice bragging rights, although I do hope bohs win the FAI Cup.

The 25 year-old has spent most of his career as a back-up to stalwarts such as Shane Supple and Peter Cherrie. Unfortunately he found himself in a similar situation this season at Shelbourne behind Dean Delaney, the clubs Player of the Year In 2017.

When he joined the club in the off-season after leaving Bray Wanderers Steacy knew it would be different to claim that coveted Number 1 jersey. He said, “Yeah, when I signed it was on a 50/50 basis whoever did better in pre-season but I wasn’t stupid, I knew Deano was his captain. I set myself a target of 10 competitive games which I’ve hit and I’ve done really well and think I’ve finally made an impression on some people, so for me the bigger picture is more important.”

Would he like to see the 38 year-old decide to hang up the gloves? “Ah look I’d never wish retirement on anyone. Me and Deano are always slagging, I do call him 62 and ask how was his last game, but my advice to him would be keep playing as long as you can. He’s a top pro and he’s still very fit so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go on.”

Being a back-up goalkeeper for so long can be tough, especially mentally, but Steacy says he’s coped quite well, “Mentally, being a number two is frustrating and leaves me with head-loss every week, especially when I know I’m good enough to play. But I’m a big team player and I want us to do well as a group so I just work as hard as always and go again week after week.”

At this stage of his career it’s now important that he establishes himself at a club as the Number 1 goalkeeper. He says he’s now fully ready to take that step, “I’m 25, so luckily for me goalkeepers get a little longer in their playing careers. I’ve plenty ahead of me but that time has come. I’ve already made my mind up I’m no longer wasting anymore time on the bench. Whatever it may be, I’ll be a 1st choice goalkeeper next season. I’ve more than served my time at this stage. Everywhere I play I always do well. I won a cup with the college where I played, I helped our GAA team Good Counsel (based in Drimnagh) to their first promotion in years to Division 3 and won player of the year and now the Leinster Senior Cup. I’m ready.”

As for where that will be, it’s still undecided. Steacy said, “I haven’t spoken to anyone as yet regarding next season. Normally I’d be pushing to get something sorted early doors but after leaving Bray early last season and then them having no goalkeepers the week before the league started made me wonder. So, I’ve holidays booked for 3 weeks in November. Whatever is on the table when I come home I’ll have a think about it then.”

Shelbourne now head into the Playoffs, with a home and away fixture against Drogheda United. After the success in the Leinster Senior Cup final Steacy and his team-mates go into those games huge on confidence, and it’s a game they’re really looking forward to.

“I think it was vital we won. Our form had dipped a bit towards the end of the season and when you look back at the points we dropped, we were only 7 points off UCD. It kinda makes you think what if? But we turned it on with a brilliant 3-0 win against Galway and then winning a final against premier opposition really gives us a bit of momentum and huge confidence going in to the play offs. We have had great battles with Drogheda this season. 1 win, 1 defeat and two draws so it will be a great contest,” continued Steacy.

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