Memorable hattrick as Storm surge to top of table
JAMIE Kennedy scored a remarkable hat-trick to fire his beloved Northern Storm to the top of the Coastal Premier League table.
The Storm are equal on points with Port Saints after clinching a 3-2 victory away to competition heavyweights Macleay Valley Rangers on Saturday.
The Northern Storm No.9 has been at the club since he was six and McCarthy couldn't have been more pleased with the performance of someone he described as a "Northern Storm boy through and through".
"Three absolute screamers - three unsaveable shots. What an absolute belter," McCarthy said.
"It was a shame we didn't have it on film, but it is great for Jamie to open his account six games in and what a way to do it.
"You don't get someone more loyal than Jamie Kennedy."
The showstopping goals didn't end there, with the Rangers' response five minutes from halftime topping the lot, described by McCarthy as "one of the best goals I have ever seen".
A switched play from the right saw the Rangers striker square up and execute a perfect scissor kick-volley with the ball "about six or seven feet in the air".
"It was an absolute rocket and, again, a shame to miss on film," he said.
With the Storm 3-1 up at the start of the second half, McCarthy correct predicted the Rangers to come at them and he was proud how his young side weathered the storm with their "backs to the wall".
The result was made all the more significant as they had five senior players unavailable and had to call up two under-17s for their senior debut in second grade.
All up, five 17-year-olds helped deny a tough Rangers opposition together with a hostile crowd who were passionate in their support for the home team. McCarthy was absolutely delighted.
"It was a very hard game and a very hard win," he said.
"To be away to a team like Macleay Valley and come away with the three points, it is certainly a result that can galvanise a squad."
The effect on the squad was evident after a video posted on the Northern Storm's Facebook page showed beaming players singing together on the team bus, ready for their next opponent Boambee FC.
There was also a veiled swipe at a piece of commentary which had labelled the side a "middle-of-the-pack squad", with McCarthy pointing out they would use anything as motivation.
"We will take whatever we can to motivate ourselves," he said.
"I suppose over the last couple of seasons we have been coming in third and fourth, which you wouldn't really call mid-table either, but it was definitely something we will use to motivate ourselves as well."
LADDER: 12 Port Saints, Northern Storm, 11 Macleay Valley Rangers, Boambee, 10 Coffs United, 8 Coffs Tigers, 7 Port United, 6 Sawtell, 3 Taree Wildcats, 2 Kempsey Saints.