Coach's Corner

Predictions for the Challenge Cup 2005 Season

Southern Gazette June 28.2005

By Gord Dunphy

Predictions for the Challenge Cup 2005 Season

Yeah , I’m back, a little bit late because I’ve been setting up a business in St. John’s for the past month. I’ve hardly had time to sleep, let alone write. Despite all of this, I’ve had the opportunity to see all the teams in action and here is what I think you are about to witness for the remainder of Round One in 2005.

Tier 1

Mount Pearl

Mount Pearl are the class of the league. They have depth, a great midfield and when John Kelly and Chad Parson are reunited, they will have a foursome that I consider the best defence in the league.

Key Performers: Alex Turpin, Jeff Walsh, John Kelly and Gerald Connolly

Coach‘s Corner Comments: This squad has great potential but Coach Walt Mavin better get his player’s rankings identified before he faces a similar situation that caused the demise of this team last season. He tried to keep too many players happy last season by giving them all playing time.

Prediction: First Place and will be awarded the “Bobby Breen Memorial Championship” for theie efforts.

St. Lawrence Laurentians

The Laurentians, for the past two seasons, have lived on the past glories of former Laurentian championship teams. This is a very talented group of individuals but I haven’t seen any one carry the torch left by the retirement of past star players Harry Kelly and Bob Spearns. Simply put, there are some players on this squad that need to show a lot more team leadership than dwelling on their own talents.

Key Performers: Clinton Edwards, Rudy Norman and young Paul (Jerome) Slaney

Coach’s Corner Comments: The Laurentians have to get more focused if they want to become provincial champs in 2005. Their style of play, using the whole field, will destroy the weaker teams but in order for the Laurentians to defeat Mount Pearl, they will have to turn up their efforts a notch or two.

Prediction: I feel a second place finish in the first round will be the ranking for the Laurentians.

St. John’s Feildians

First of all, it’s great the Feildians are back into Challenge Cup competition. To date, from what I’ve seen of these guys, they are totally focussed. I have seen them play and I’ve seen them practise, and it’s practise that has allowed me to make a sound judgement on this team. They have a new coach and attitude and I’m sure they realize third place is up for grabs.

Key Players: Matthew Prim, Chad Moore, Matthew Wilkins and Steven Croft

Coach’s Corner Comments: Veteran Pat Kennedy has come out of retirement and gives this team great leadership. I also understand that Gussy Richards will be available from time to time.

Prediction: The Feildians are not an overly talented team but neither is the league, once you get past Mount Pearl and St. Lawrence. The Feildians will surprise a lot of people and because of their efforts, they will be rewarded the comeback team of the year by getting third place in Round One.

Tier Two

Holy Cross

Holy Cross are still trying to get their identify back and regain their winning traditions of the past. This season, Holy Cross is coached by one of the most respected players to ever have played soccer in this province, Bernard (Fox) Reddy. Already I see that Holy Cross are back to wearing their old traditional colours of Gold and Red, which is something I strongly support. I am a traditionalist and I believe in teams building, creating and maintaining a distinguished identity. On the field they generally have a very young squad led by veterans JB Delrizzo , Jay Babstock and Mark Reddy.

Key Performers: Jeremy Babstock, Zac Atwood, Mark Reddy and Jon Hawco

Coach’s Corner Comments: This team is more keyed to being a team built for the future rather than the present. The early season suspension to Jeremy Babstock won’t help their cause this season. My comment on Jeremy Babstock’s attack on Richard Kelly during a Laurentians home game is that physical abuse certainly has no place in the game of soccer.

Prediction: I predict Holy Cross will vie for third place in Round One but eventually they will place a very respectable fourth considering the youth on this club.

Marystown United

After having a banner season in 2004 with a very surprising Labour-Day Weekend victory in St. Lawrence, Marystown were crowned Challenge Cup Champions in 2004. Things will change for Marystown this season. This year, reality will face them again and put them back on their heels. Already Marystown’s start to the season is a reflection of the statement that “it’s harder stay on top than it is to get there.”

Key Players: Scott Edwards , Craig Edwards, Vince McDougall and Darrell Stewart

Coach’s Corner Comments: I realize that Marystown will play a number of their games without their imports, but with the loss this season of two of their most talented stars from 2004 ( Johnny Pickett and Brian Francis), this will be more than Coach Mel Stacey can handle.

Prediction: I predict a fifth place finish for Marystown this season. This could be a very frustrating season for the United squad.

Harbour Grace Shannons

A team that enters any league as a expansion club will face growing pains, defeat and a sense of frustration before season’s end. That’s exactly what Harbour Grace soccer club are about to encounter for the duration of the 2005 season.

Key Player: Former Marystown United player, sweeper Sheldon Barry, must show strong leadership in leading this very young inexperienced team.

Coach’s Corner Comments. My hat goes off to Mayor Don Coombs of this rural community who has taken the initiative to get behind this club and do the managing duties for the Harbour Grace Shannons. Certainly, coaches Al Reid, formerly of Marystown, and his assistant Sean Cashin, must be commended for their efforts in helping establish the growth of soccer in the Conception Bay North area.

Prediction: I predict last place for the Shannons and Harbour Grace will be shut-out in a vast number of their games and will struggle to achieve a couple of victories for the season.

Gord Dunphy is a former 1990’s Challenge Cup All - Star coach of the St. Lawrence Laurentians and National Bronze Medallist. He can be reached by e-mail at