By Aaron Cheris (@AaronHowie)

With time winding down in the 2015 Cosmos Copa Championship game on Sunday night, NYC Ireland was awarded a penalty kick.
With a chance to give his team the title, Ian Sweeney stepped up to the spot and drilled the ball into the top corner of the net, scoring the deciding goal in NYC Ireland’s 3-2 win over NYC Colombia.  
“The guy has nerves of steel. He’s ice cold in front of goal,” NYC Ireland coach Austin Friel said of Sweeney. “There’s no other man I’d want in that situation.”
The championship is the first in team history for NYC Ireland. In the first Cosmos Copa back in 2009, the Irish made it all the way to the championship game before falling to NYC Albania.
“It’s been a long hard struggle,” Friel said. “It hasn’t even sunk in yet.”
In the opening minutes of the first half, it was the Colombians who struck first on a penalty kick from Christian Turizo.

Less than five minutes later, the Irish were able to answer. After a shot hit the crossbar, Conor Hunter dove in and knocked a header over the line to tie the game at one.
Later in the half, NYC Ireland took the lead on a goal from team captain Sean Kelly. Kelly got a cross in the box and took a low shot past Colombian keeper Oswaldo Herrera.
Not to be outdone, the Colombians equalized a few minutes later. Kevin Correa took a long shot that had some movement on it and got past NYC Ireland goalkeeper Alex Condell.
At halftime, the score was tied at two and the crowd at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium was enjoying the action.
In the second half, NYC Colombia switched goalkeepers. Herrera came out for Manuel Elijaek. That change proved to be a big one.
After Manuel Angel Pineda Palomino was given his second yellow card in the second half, NYC Colombia was down to 10 men.
The Irish looked to take advantage, but Elijaek was strong in net. After one shot hit the post behind him, Elijaek deflected Joe Holland’s try off the bar to the roar of the crowd to keep the game tied at 2.
“Colombia is a very good team,” Friel said. “They didn’t deserve to lose the game, I think a draw would have been a fair result.”
In the game’s waning moments, NYC Ireland was given a shot at a title, and Sweeney made sure he didn’t miss. After scoring the tying goal on a penalty kick against NYC Gambia in the semifinals, Sweeney was ready for another chance.

“I wasn’t nervous at all. I took two penalty kicks in the semifinal before that,” Sweeney said.
A few minutes later, the final whistle sounded and the Irish squad hoisted the Cosmos Copa trophy above their heads in celebration that will last from New York to Dublin. 

Both Friel and Sweeney said NYC Ireland is dedicating the win to team vice president Paul “Doc” Doherty, who is back home in Ireland and has been with NYC Ireland since the beginning.