IRWIN, St James — After being the whipping boys of Zone A of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association daCosta Cup football competition for years, Irwin High are daring to dream of getting out of the first round for the first time.
Irwin High have won their first three games — their best-ever start to a daCosta Cup season — outscoring their opponents 8-0 in the process. The highlight so far is a 5-0 thrashing of hapless Anchovy High on Friday, the most goals they have ever scored in a game.
Additionally, Irwin High lead Zone A for the first time since they started playing in the 2008 season. Their display to date has pleased Coach Norman "Bigga" Foster who took over the team at the start of the 2019 season.
"It is the continuous training and the game plan we put to them," said the former national player.
"First and foremost, we had to get inside their heads and build some confidence."
"So I had to come and help them to see something they were lacking, and now they are more confident in their own abilities and what they can do," said Foster, who played on both Violet Kickers teams to win national premier league titles in the mid-90s.
Irwin High had never won any of their first two games in the competition. They are the only team in the history of Zone A of the competition to have lost two by double digits in the same season as they did in 2014. They were beaten 0-11 by Cornwall College and 0-10 by Green Pond High.
They have come a long way since then and Foster admitted it took a while for the team to grasp his philosophy.
"It was slow at first, but they are finally getting it," he told the Jamaica Observer on Friday.
"There is still a lot of work left to do. We just have to continue working on their confidence and it will come," Foster said.
"We see that we now have a chance to get out of the zone this year, that is the first step, then we have to take it from there," he said.
Irwin High will have a big test on Tuesday when they host Cornwall College.
They have come close in the last few years, but their last win over Cornwall College came in the 2008 season when they won 1-0 at home. Irwin were beaten 0-4 by Cornwall in the return leg as they finished fourth in the zone.