Final Four – French Cup of Rink Hockey
April 21 and 22, 2012, in Dinan (France, 22).
The Final Four was not only a Rink Hockey « festival » but also a folk-festival, as the semi finals took place on Saturday evening in front of 1200 spectators, and the Sunday’s finals gathered around 1500 people.
The first semi final opposed the SCRA St Omer, currently 2nd of the Elite French Championship, to the RAC St Brieuc, currently 6th. The numerous spectators were expecting a powerful shock between those two teams, which missed the title last season, during the first edition of the Final Four in St Omer.
Enhanced by its Spanish player-coach Angel Puyane, St Brieuc, playing almost at home, intended to take no chances in this race for the trophy. The first period was balanced, each team creating goal opportunities, which were efficiently blocked by the two excellent goalkeepers Tanguy (RAC) and Cantarero (SCRA). Barbarosa (SCRA) still managed to offer his team a 1-goal advantage (1’) until the half-time. Back from the locker room, Minnuzzi murders the RAC in scoring 3 times in a row (30’ ; 30’30 ; 30’45). From then on, the Costarmoricans’ game explodes and lets a total free hand to St Omer who flies to the finals with a final score of 07 to 00 (David and Dolce 2).
The second semi final was much awaited to see how Tom Thumb, the SAG Cestas (N2) was going to act in front of the Ogre of Quévert, the current leader of the Elite French Championship. The answer did not take long to come : In less than 6 min, the HC Dinan-Quévert was leading 3-0 (Oliva and Tomas 2). Shaken in their foundations from the very start, the Cestas team couldn’t but make a pale performance, taking 8 goals in total without never managing to get their heads out of the water. Very easily, Quévert, supported by its public and the local brass band, got its ticket to the final.
High level finals
At first, the Small final opposing St-Brieuc to Cestas looked like a mere formality given that the levels of the two teams seemed disproportionate after the previous day’s performances. To the general surprise, Cestas opens the score after 15 seconds only (Gomes). The Cestas team shows a brand-new face and dangerously answers to the methodical attacks of St Brieuc. Nicolas Guillen (Cestas), back after an injury, excels in his goal and enables his team to resist until the equilizer at the 12th minute (A. Le Roux).
Little by little, St-Brieuc imposes itself with difficulty in front of that surprising team and finally takes the advantage thanks to Ribot (17’) and Roux (24’) just before the half-time break.
At the start of the second half, St Brieuc seems to master the game without widening the score gap, remaining within the reach of Cestas who keeps on fighting. At the 37’ the latter will see its efforts rewarded. Gomes logically restores hope in his team mates. The game radically changes, each team in turn lauching attacks in direction of the opponent’s goal. With this little game Gomes scores 3 goals and enables his team to equalize in order to reach the extra time. It is yet not enough to decide for the winner of the game, and free kicks are needed. St Brieux finally snatches the victory and reaches the third step of the French Cup podium. A game full of suspense, enjoyed by an enthusiastic public, which will have witnessed the deserved comeback of the Girondins in this Small final.
Final : SCRA St Omer – Dinan/Quévert
Two leaders of the French Rink Hockey had to meet on that Sunday afternoon in Dinan, in order to decide for the winner of this 11th edition of the French Cup. No observation round needed for these two teams who know each other well. With a reactive, technique and fluent game, the two opponents fight back. Experimented player Dolce opens the score in favor of St Omer in seizing a great opportunity to score (8’). Quevert’s reaction is terrific. The huge goalkeeper of St Omer is more and more under pressure but he resists until the 20th minute. Thanks to an irregularity, the HC Dinan gets a penalty which Tomas converts, although not without difficulty. Without further delay, St Omer strikes back : Henry, their capitain, shows all his determination and manages to get the advantage back (24’). The staff and the North players are very tensed and hardly contain themselves after the above-mentioned Henry got a blue card by the referees. The half-time break is welcome, while the score is 02-01 to St Omer’s advantage. The second period is well organized. St Brieuc doesn’t intend to die and St Omer tries to kill the game. Toma, Oliva and Turler multiply the number of actions, put their opponents under pressure, but nothing is any good. Landrin’s absence to complete Dinan’s actions is felt. St Omer counter-attacks but Gélebart doesn’t lose his grip and even blocks a direct free kick granted at the 37’. The game ends up in an undescribable tension that is worthy of a French Cup final. In the end, St Omer wins by 02 to 01 and wins its 3rd French Cup.
Useful LinksBy Alfathor
Translated by Close Yr E’s
Photos: Pierre Laurent