The West Cork League and Kerry District League played out a 2-2 draw in the Oscar Traynor Cup last Sunday. Ger McCarthy looks back at three things learned from a game in which Kerry progressed to the knockout phase of the tournament.
(Note: An extended match report including all the after-match reaction will be published exclusively in the Southern Star on Thursday January 12th).
1. WEST CORK PRIDE RESTORED
The most important aspects of the West Cork League’s 2016-17′ Oscar Traynor Cup campaign were restoring pride in the league’s jersey and attempting to re-establish the WCL at inter-league level.
Credit to the management team of Richie Collins, Mike Doolan and Rob Oldham for ticking both of the aforementioned boxes and ensuring the commitment of a dedicated West Cork squad delivered three noteworthy performances against Limerick Desmond, Limerick District and the Kerry District League.
There is still a long way to go, both on and off the field, before West Cork can start dreaming of qualifying for the knockout stages of such a prestigious competition but 2017 was all about laying the foundation for future campaigns.
Now that those foundations are in place, an increasing talent pool of players plying their trade across three separate divisions should be capable of kicking on next year and raising the West Cork League’s profile both at home and at Oscar Traynor Cup level.
2. KERRY DESERVING GROUP WINNERS
Last Sunday’s visitors to Darrara Agricultural College knew avoiding defeat would guarantee a place in the knockout phase of the Oscar Traynor Cup. Twice the Kerry District League took the lead and although they lived dangerously at times, got the point they required to move on in the competition.
David Hennessy proved a dependable goalkeeper between the sticks while Jason Hickson and Con Barrett’s central defensive partnership repeatedly denied West Cork’s strikers time and space.
Up front, Jonathan Downey proved a handful whenever in possession and he along with Ritchie Hurley took their goals superbly when the opportunities arose.
While they will be hoping for a home draw in the next round, a full-strength Kerry District League appear capable of progressing in the competition and will benefit from the best possible preparation against a motivated West Cork League outfit this past weekend.
3. MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO
One of the most pleasing aspects of West Cork’s Oscar Traynor Cup 2017 odyssey was the consistent level of performance from a squad containing a blend of youth and experience.
17-year-old goalkeeper Liam Colbert can be pleased with his efforts over the WCL’s three group games. One magnificent point-blank reflex save against Limerick District stands out but his overall competence in the face of quality forward lines bodes well for the future of one of West Cork’s brightest talents.
The central defensive partnership of Drinagh Rangers’ JJ Collins and Riverside Athletics’ Stephen Keohane was critical to West Cork’s Oscar Traynor Cup renaissance. Two of the finest defenders in the region, Collins and Keohane used all their experience and dove-tailed brilliantly with full-backs Barry (T) O’Driscoll and Fin Butler.
Up front, Drinagh Rangers’ Barry O’Driscoll (H) underlined his talent with a superb display alongside Dunmanway Town’s Jerry McCarthy this past weekend. It would take another lengthy blog to highlight each WCL squad member’s contributions but John Sheehan, Jamie Walsh, Alan Dromey and Stephen O’Donovan each had their moments in West Cork’s colours over the past couple of months.
Bottom line, the future is bright for the WCL at Oscar Traynor Cup level.