Photo: Major Basil Jarrett, President of the Jamaica College Old Boys Association and Jamaica College head coach Miguel Coley celebrate their three-peat after clipping St, Georges College 1-0 in the final of the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup on Saturday. Coley has won the Manning Cup in all his three years in charge at Jamaica College.
When Miguel Coley left Jamaica on Sunday November 15th to rejoin the Reggae Boyz squad on their World Cup qualification campaign, he left the island a beaten man. In less than 24 hours he had suffered a combined 6-0 loss, standing in virtually the same spot at the National Stadium.
In his first game as head coach of the Senior Reggae Boyz team, Coley had overseen a 2-0 loss to Panama before returning to the same spot, the very next day, only to see his Jamaica College team thrashed 4-0 by St. Georges College in the final of the ISSA/FLOW Super Cup.
But things began to turn for Coley shortly after, as two days later Jamaica returned to winnings ways, defeating Haiti 1-0 in their second semi-final World Cup qualifier. Jamaica College then saw off Denham Town High 4-2 in the Manning Cup semi-final to set-up a rematch with St. Georges College in the final of the competition where he had never lost a game as head coach of JC.
When a team wins and wins emphatically there are few, if any, adjustments to be made, but when a team gets thrashed 4-0 in a final and relinquishes their title, clearly there are a lot of adjustments to be made. Jamaica College and Miguel Coley in particular, did just that.
Donovan Dawkins who had been coming up with the goods for JC in the latter part of the season, was moved from right midfield into a central striking role, while centre back Zeron Sewell was moved into central midfield to add strength and steel to counter the pace and to trick the STGC team.
In addition to that, Alex Marshall, the man who had destroyed JC in the Super Cup final with his awesome dribbling skills, was given very little room in which to operate. He was hunted in packs by the JC defenders who blocked the channels and nullified the STGC attacking threats which also included their captain Shevon Stewart and Gregory Messam Jr.
STGC had scored early against JC and that had blown the game wide open two weeks earlier, but on this occasion JC had managed to keep the boys from North Street off the score sheet all the way to half time, while limiting their opponents looks at goal. In fact, JC had looked the more likely to score in the first half.
The second half was better for STGC and it seemed that they would be the first to score, but the JC defence stood firm. A crucial save from Jahmali Waite would prove to be the second most important moment in the match, when he sprawled to his left to keep out a shot from Shevon Stewart in the 89th minute.
In the 90th minute of one of the most intriguing Manning Cup finals in recent memory, Sewell and Dawkins combined to win the title for JC and vindicate Coley, while exorcising the demons of two weeks earlier. A telling cross from Sewell was redirected towards goal by Dawkins and the looping header went just over the outstretched hands of Cyle Elliott in the STGC goal and just under the crossbar to nestle in the back of the net.
Two massive tactical decisions had brought about a famous win for Coley, as both he and his team maintained a remarkable unbeaten run in the Manning Cup on their way to a magnificent three-peat.