Bringing European Football Closer to Home

It only happens once every four years. Outside of the World Cup, it is the most important even in European football. It is the European Cup.

As Europe celebrated the beginning of the 24-day, 16-nation tournament, Anna Liffey’s, an Irish pub located on 17 Whitney Avenue in New Haven Conn., did their best to bring the European experience to America.

Outside,there is a free barbecue, and, of course, there are two televisions showing the first match of the tournament—Italy against Spain.

Anna Liffey’s employee Joey Dunne mans his station. On the grill today: buffalo wings, hotdogs and hamburgers.

There is alos a live musician playing.

Inside, supporters for both Italy and Spain sit, either at the bar or in the dinning area, with their eyes glued to the action.

Anna Liffey’s is filled–half of the people support Italy, while the other half support Spain. Either way, the supporters stay up-to-date with the action thanks to two televisions stationed at opposite ends of the dinning area.

“When it comes to soccer, this is, and has always been the place to come,” said Jimmy Keane, a soccer fan who has been coming to Anna Liffey’s since it opened in 1997.

Jimmy Keane isn’t the only loyal and frequent visitor to this pub, most of the patrons are regulars.

“I am a Liverpool(Liverpool is a soccer club located in Liverpool, England) supporter (fan) and every week during the season, most if not all of the local Liverpool supporters come here to watch the game, socialize and just have a good time,” said Jason Lambert, a Anna Liffey’s regular for 12 years.

However, don’t think that only Liverpool supporters are welcome.

“I am a Chelsea(an English club located in West London) support and though the Liverpool guys think this is just their home, we (Chelsea supporters) also call this home. This is a soccer place and as far as I am concerned, the best soccer pub, not just in Connecticut, but New England,” said 25-year-old Chelsea supporter, Wayne Brooks.

Brooks isn’t the only one to think that Anna Liffey’s is one, if not the best in New England—Boston.com, as well as, bigcheesefoodcritic.com seems to share in his feeling.

Though Brooks is a Chelsea support and Keane and Lambert are Liverpool supporters, there is one thing all parties can agree on. “For the soccer atmosphere, nothing beats Anna Liffey’s.” said Brooks, Keane and Lambert in unison.

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On this night however, club allegiance is put on hold—it is all about country.

So, come on inside and take in the match.

Today is a good day to visit—Ireland is playing Croatia.

Unfortunately, Ireland losses, but that doesn’t mean the people aren’t still having a good time. “It was a bad loss and won’t be easier with Spain to play next. But, hey, everyone here is still having fun—at least Ireland is in it,” said Anna Liffey’s cook Shane McCarty.

McCarty isn’t the only employee who adds to the atmosphere, the whole staff does their part to make the Anna Liffey’s experience one of a kind.

Still not sure about Anna Liffey’s, check out the reviews.

CFC Azul in New Britain to play Worcester Hydra

Coming off a tie in their previous game, CFC Azul took to the pitch at Willow Park in New Britain, to play host to the Hydra of Worcester Ma.

Heading into the match, Azul were down four of their regular starters, most notably, their leading goal scorer, Ryan Kinne, who was called up to play for the New England Revolution’s reserve team, but to their credit, they took to the pitch without excuses.

But, having played the day prior and without key players, the team looked a bit sluggish and it showed. Only 12 minutes into the first half, Azul’s goalkeeper, Matt Sangeloty, took his eyes off the ball during a pass-back play and if it weren’t for his quick reaction, to run back and save the ball from crossing the goal-line, Azul would have been down a goal and Sangeloty would have been truly embarrassed.

However, three-minutes later, Sangeloty’s blunder and miraculous recovery didn’t matter as Hydra’s striker and leading goal scorer, Junior Alencar, put the ball passed Sangeloty and into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Playing down a goal, Azul picked up their effort and equalized in the 36th minute off a set-piece, headed in by Eddie Floyd.

At the half, the score was tied, but as Azul came out for the second, their energy sank, the desperation they played with to tie the game was gone and Hydra took advantage.

In the 64th minute, off a corner kick, Derek McCaffrey headed the ball straight through two defenders and passed Sangeloty for the 2-1 Hydra lead and though there was a late Azul scare when captain Paul Templeton chipped the ball, goal-bound, over the head of Hydra’s goalkeeper from mid-field–the ball hit the crossbar and bounced back into play allowing Hydra to hold onto the lead and eventually win the match, 2-1.

With the loss, Azul’s record drops to 2-3-3, but the good news–Azul has the chance to rebound quickly as they play June 13th, in Boston, against the Victory.