September Signs – Munster SFC final

The following article was published in the Irish Examiner following Kerry’s facile Munster GAA senior football championship final victory over Cork on Mon July 3rd 2017. – Enjoy, Ger McCarthy.

 

IrishExaminer

 

Midfield experience points Kerry to victory

Colm Cooper stated in Saturday’s Irish Examiner that ‘When Kerry hum, it’s because they have a key platform from the middle of the field to put the foot down and drive on’. How prophetic the former All-Ireland winner’s words proved to be.

David Moran issued an immediate statement of intent by winning the throw-in and setting up Kerry’s first score. True, Cork won their fair share of possession in the middle third, but over the hour, Moran and Anthony Maher underlined their importance to Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s setup with a commanding air display that tipped the balance in Kerry’s favour.

Add in Kieran Donaghy’s ability to drift out from the square and the Kingdom possesses three primary ball-winners capable of mixing it with Dublin or Tyrone later this year.

 

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Cork, God help us

Another year and another route through the qualifiers beckon for the rebels. Erratic shooting, an unwillingness to push up on the Kerry kick outs allied with Cork’s failure to raise their game meant there was only ever going to be one result.

The gulf in class between a team challenging for the Sam Maguire and one still struggling to find its identity under their current management setup was never more apparent.

Defeat to Kerry was not unexpected but the lack of passion and intensity in Cork’s display meant this was one of Cork’s most underwhelming visits to Killarney for a Munster final.

 

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Kerry’s ruthless efficiency

There were 41 minutes on the clock and sixteen points on the scoreboard before James O’Donoghue kicked Kerry’s first wide of the Munster final.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side’s 79th provincial title was achieved without ever needing to move into top gear, an indictment of both their opponents’ failings and Kerry’s own ruthless efficiency. Tougher tests lay ahead yet the movement and accuracy of Kerry’s forwards suggests they are capable of unlocking the stingiest of defences.

No doubt, Fitzmaurice would have preferred a tougher test before heading to Croke Park but right now, Kerry are Dublin’s only serious challengers for this year’s All-Ireland.

 

Retro GAA – Beara v UCC

The following is a Cork SFC match report from the 2015 championship between the Beara Divisional side and University College Cork. The tie took place in Dunmanway and went to extra-time before Beara recorded a famous victory over a UCC side that contained plenty of Kerry inter-county talent – Ger McCarthy.

 
“BEARA SEND UCC PACKING”
BEARA     1-20 UCC    1-16 (after extra time)
GER MCCARTHY REPORTS

Beara enjoyed one of their finest evenings in the Divisions/Colleges section of the Cork county senior football championship by registering a rousing victory over UCC on Friday evening.

Cork_GAA_crest

A sun-kissed Dunmanway venue played host to an encounter that required extra time to decide the outcome after Beara came from behind in both halves to book their place in the last sixteen of the championship.

‘This is an absolutely massive result for us and a huge lift for Beara football,’ said an elated Beara manager Finbarr Harrington.

‘Look, we were struggling for numbers for a long time but this win over a very good UCC team will give us a great lift. Our U21’s are out on Sunday against Valley Rovers and we can look forward, as a board, to that but tonight is just a fantastic night for Beara football.

‘Our ambition tonight was to make the last sixteen. We’ve done it, we made it hard (for ourselves) but we are absolutely delighted. Being in the last sixteen is brilliant for Beara and we will look forward to next round.’

Beara
A strong UCC panel began with ten Kerry natives plus one Waterford representative and leading at the break, the college were still a point ahead, 1-12 to 1-11, with time ticking down.

Beara’s brave fight back appeared in vain when Conchúr Harrington missed a close range free a minute from the end but the Urhan player converted a much more difficult effort in the dying embers to send the tie to extra time.

The eventual winners somehow found an extra gear in the first additional period with Kevin Jer O’Sullivan, Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan (twice), Vincent Lehane efforts giving the West Cork division the edge only for Conor Gleeson and three Conor Cox points (two frees) to level the score 1-16 apiece at the second interval.

Once again Beara dug deep and rattled off four unanswered white flags courtesy of Conchúr Harrington, Andrew O’Sullivan, Liam Harrington and Ciarán McElhinney to move 1-20 to 1-16 in front.

UCC
The drama didn’t end there with UCC having loud appeals for a penalty waved away, Beara goalkeeper William O’Sullivan producing an excellent reflex save and Joe Harrington clearing another goal-bound effort off his line before the final whistle brought an end to an epic match.

Beara had heroes all over the pitch but none more so than the tireless Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan who contributed three points. Andrew O’Sullivan, Conchúr Harington, Dave Fenton, Kevin Jer O’Sullivan and Gary Murphy’s performances were also pivotal to Beara’s victory.

UCC led 0-4 to 0-2 early on before Dave Fenton punched a lofted Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan attempt into the net to push Beara in front. Conor Cox would finish the evening with nine points and the Kerryman’s accuracy helped UCC retake the lead ahead of a Kevin O’Sullivan goal to make it 1-7 to 1-5 after 28 minutes.

The College maintained a two-point lead into the second half where Beara’s inaccurate shooting threatened to undo all their diligent approach work. Another Conor Cox free and marvellous John Murphy effort looked to have won it for UCC until Conchúr Harrington’s two late frees forced extra time.

Beara were the better side in additional time and ran out deserving winners on a never to be forgotten evening for the Divisional side.

Scorers

Beara: Conchur Harrington 0-7 (5 f), Dave Fenton 1-0, Kevin Jer O’Sullivan (1 f), Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan 0-3 each, Andrew O’Sullivan (1 45’), Connor Lowney 0-2 each, Vincent Lehane, Liam Harrington and Ciarán McElhinney 0-1 each.

UCC: Conor Cox 0-9 (5 f), Kevin O’Sullivan 1-0, Adrian Spillane 0-3, Sean O’Donoghue, Michael Walsh, John Murphy and Conor Gleeson 0-1 each.

Beara: William O’Sullivan (Adrigole); David Torres (Castletownbere), Liam Harrington (Adrigole), Lorcan Harrington (Castletownbere); Trevor Collins (Castletownbere), Joe Harrington (Garnish), Eanna Murphy (Garnish); Andrew O’Sullivan (Castletownbere), Shane McCarthy (Castletownbere); Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan (Garnish), Dave Fenton (Castletownbere), Conchúr Harrington (Urhan); Paul O’Neill (Garnish), Connor Lowney (Urhan), Gary Murphy (Castletownbere),

Subs: Kevin Jer O’Sullivan (Adrigole) for David Torres (ht), Vincent Lehane (Urhan) for Paul O’Neill (48), Barry Goggin (Adrigole) for Shane McCarthy (56), Martin McCarthy (Urhan) for Connor Lowney (60), Ciarán McElhinney (Glengariff) for Vincent Lehane (73).

UCC: D O’Shea (Ballydonoghue); J Maguire (Listowel Emmetts), D Culhane (Ballylongford), K Histon (Cobh); C Hyde (Naomh Abán), M Walsh (Knocknagoshel), T Clancy (Fermoy); G O’Sullivan (Listry), B O’Sullivan (Dingle); K O’Sullivan (Kenmare Shamrocks), A Spillane (Templenoe), S Keane (Killarney Legion); C Gleeson (The Nire), C Cox (Listowel Emmetts), S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra).

Subs: C Murphy (Rathmore) for J Maguire (41), K Shanahan (Ardfert) for S O’Donoghue (47), J Murphy (Macroom) for S Keane (47), S Kelleher (Aghinagh) for J Murphy (61, bc), S Keane for K O’Sullivan (et), M O’Connor (Sneem/Derrynane) for A Spillane (68, inj), J Maguire for T Clancy (70, bc), S O’Donoghue for M O’Connor (76).

Referee: Michael Collins (Clonakilty)

STAR MAN
Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan of Beara
The Garnish player was pivotal to Beara’s victory, scoring three points, intelligently linking defence with attack and producing a tireless performance on a memorable evening for his division.

Carbery clubs gear up for league campaign

Ger McCarthy looks ahead to this year’s Rochestown Park Hotel sponsored Division 1 senior football League in which five West Cork clubs will compete for top honours.

Published in the Evening Echo – January 2017

EveningEcho

West Cork clubs are preparing for their upcoming county football league campaigns in a revamped structure following a county board review.

In this year’s top division, five west Cork sides; Carbery Rangers, Castlehaven, Clonakilty, Ilen Rovers and O’Donovan Rossa will contest an eleven-club league hoping to dethrone 2016 Kelleher Shield winners Nemo Rangers.

Disappointingly, another Carbery representative, Newcestown, find themselves demoted to Division 2 along with Bishopstown, Douglas and Clyda.

Earlier this week, the Evening Echo’s Mark Woods outlined the Cork county board’s reasoning behind a decision to reduce the number of teams across each of the competing leagues and introduce a new fifth division. That subsequent revamp means Newcestown will not play in this season’s top tier despite finishing tenth in a fourteen-club division at the end of 2016.

Missing out on an opportunity to compete against some of the county’s top ranked senior teams is not the preparation Newcestown or their Cork SFC preliminary round opponents Douglas were hoping for. Yet, the likes of Bishopstown, Éire Óg, Macroom and Cill na Martra should still provide decent opposition for a Newcestown team that overcame Aghada and UCC before bowing out to Avondhu during their previous championship odyssey.

 

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Carbery Rangers

Defending county champions Carbery Rangers finished top of the Rochestown Park Hotel Football Division 1 league standings last year only to lose 2-12 to 0-9 to Nemo in the semi-finals. That defeat came a month after claiming their first Cork SFC title however and Rangers’ new management team of Maurice Moore and Shane Crowley will be eager to hit the ground running and maintain the west Cork club’s high level of consistency in the competition.

Intriguingly, a draft programme (all fixtures subject to change) of Division 1 fixtures displayed on the Cork GAA website has Carbery Rangers hosting Castlehaven in their opening league encounter. The two clubs didn’t face one another in competitive action last year and the prospect of a feisty west Cork derby between two rivals would attract a large crowd to Rosscarbery, albeit so early in the campaign.

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Castlehaven

At the time of writing, the Haven’ are yet to announce their new manager for the coming season but possess a squad capable of challenging for the Kelleher Shield. A record of ten wins and two losses from their 2016 league fixture-list preceded a one-point win over Valley Rovers in the semi-finals and two-point loss to Nemo in the decider. Having lost the previous two Division 1 finals, another top-four finish is well within Castlehaven’s reach.

clon
Clonakilty

Clonakilty missed out on a league semi-final berth by a single point and subsequent play-off last year but a fifth overall finish represented a much improved showing for Paul Holland’s side. Notable victories over Castlehaven, O’Donovan Rossa and Ilen Rovers plus a 0-12 to 0-12 draw with eventual league champions Nemo Rangers bodes well for the Brewery Town who are expected to continue integrating members of their U21 and minor panels.

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O’Donovan Rossa

2015 Kelleher Shield winners O’Donovan Rossa endured a difficult follow-up campaign, finishing mid-table in Shane Crowley’s final term as bainisteoir before joining Carbery Rangers. Now under the tutelage of Ned English, the Skibbereen club are aiming for a higher finish this time around and will no doubt look to inter-county players Ryan Price, Donal Óg Hodnett and Daniel Hazel as well as a talented U21 panel for inspiration.

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Ilen Rovers

Ed Sheehy takes charge of Ilen Rovers for the coming year and will be hopeful of building on a positive twelve months for the Rath/Baltimore side. Rovers U21’s claimed the Carbery ‘A’ title and reached the county decider whilst the senior panel also enjoyed a productive summer, rebounding from a heavy preliminary round loss to Avondhu to overcome Dohenys and Carrigaline in consecutive rounds.

Castlehaven ended Ilen’s interest in the Cork SFC at the fourth round stage but a positive showing plus the addition of a host of talented U21’s suggests Rovers will improve on last year’s league record of five wins and a draw.

nemo
Nemo Rangers

Aside from the five west Cork representatives, Nemo Rangers will start as favourites to reclaim a Division 1 League trophy they won on December 1st. Ballincollig, under new management, and St. Finbarr’s will also fancy their chances whilst Ballingeary and Mallow should relish the opportunity to face senior championship opponents in a division completed by Valley Rovers inclusion.

Bucks add fizz to Dohenys’ dream

By Ger McCarthy

Tim Buckley’s decision to take over Dohenys senior footballers was an easy decision for West Cork club’s former player and early signs suggest a productive year lies ahead.
(published in the Evening Echo – December 2016).

EveningEcho

At a glance, Dohenys senior footballers 2016 record makes for worrying reading and begs the question just what would motivate anyone to put their name forward for the vacant bainisteoir position.

Relegation from the Division 2 League following a single victory in twelve outings as well as consecutive Cork SFC defeats to Douglas and Ilen Rovers before overcoming St. Nick’s in a relegation play-off replay.

Yet, five minutes in new manager Tim Buckley’s company and his enthusiasm, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness to turn the West Cork club’s fortunes around is obvious, even a bit infectious.
dohenys
Hopefully, Dohenys’ senior squad have come to realise that they possess a new manager committed to building on the foundations laid by the previous regime and nurturing the youthful talent emerging from the minor and U21 ranks.

Taking over prior to September’s drawn relegation play-off joust with St. Nick’s, Tim Buckley has wasted little time in surrounding himself with an impressive backroom team that gives the Dunmanway club a fighting chance of reversing their fortunes at senior level for the first time in many years.

“Taking over Dohenys senior squad is a labour of love for me,’ Buckley admitted.

“I think becoming a manager is a natural extension for anyone who has previously played the game. It is the next best thing to playing once the legs have given up. We have a very good underage structure here in Dohenys and I believe we owe it to those young players to provide the proper platform for them when they move into adult football.”

Buckley’s association with the Carbery club goes back to 1993 when he married Marguerite and moved from Ballineen to Dunmanway. He quickly transferred to the Dohenys GAA club and was part of a panel that won junior and intermediate county titles before reaching the promised land of the senior ranks.

“I could see there was a need for someone new to come in and build on the great work done over the previous three or four years,’ said Buckley when asked why he accepted an invitation to take over Dohenys seniors.

“I was approached by the club back in September and I immediately accepted as I felt that gave me enough time to put a proper group of hardworking people together and start building for the future.

“What I mean by that is I needed to put the groundwork in place for the next five to ten years as much as the immediate need to win a relegation play-off. By starting in September rather than January I was afforded the opportunity to do things properly with Dohenys right from day one.”

“We identified all the key areas necessary for a senior football team to become successful. From there, we handpicked guys in and around the locality that we felt were strong in those particular areas and have come up with a very experienced, strong-willed group of people.

“Kevin Crowley will be our player liaison officer and will work closely with the squad on a daily basis. Brendan Farr is our logistics manager, Fachtna McCarthy fixtures secretary and Donal O’Sullivan is also coming in to work with Pat Joe O’Regan on match analysis and statistics.

“Stephen Kearney will be our physiotherapist for the coming year and we have also secured the services of the experienced former Carbery Rangers bainisteoir Micheál O’Sullivan and he will be absolutely crucial for us.

“Micheál is from outside Dunmanway, so will bring a fresh perspective and raise the bar for the squad after many successful years in Rosscarbery and with Clonakilty Community College. Most importantly of all, Micheál’s style of coaching should have a hugely positive impact on the way Dohenys play senior football from next year onwards.

“Finally, we have recruited the services of Cork senior footballer Colm O’Driscoll to help us out with our strength and conditioning programme. Colm runs An Muileann gym in Drimoleague and his expertise and experience can only help Dohenys’ players improve.”

Struggling in the shadow of their West Cork neighbours at senior level for too long, Tim Buckley and his new backroom team’s arrival has jolted Dohenys back into life. An intriguing 2017 Cork SFC campaign awaits the Dunmanway club.

TALENT
Developing the club’s underage talent and building on a positive conclusion to the Cork SFC campaign are on new Dohenys manager Tim Buckley’s to-do list for the coming year.

“Dohenys has three of our squad currently training with the Cork U21’s; my son Mark Buckley, Sean Daly and Eoin Lavers,” Buckley commented.

“On top of that we also have two guys on the Cork minor panel and an additional two lads training with the Cork U17’s. That shows there is conveyor belt of talent coming through which is hugely encouraging for the future.

“It’s incumbent on us to provide these young players with a platform to become senior footballers and that’s a major part of our plans over the next five to ten years.

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“That’s why it was so important to come through a real test of character against St. Nick’s in the relegation play-off games. We had a very young team lined out for the drawn game and replay but they showed some of the old Dohenys character and spirit to come through. That tells me we have plenty raw material to work with in the near future.”

In contrast, emigration continues to decimate playing numbers within Dohenys’ and other GAA communities. Many of the Dunmanway club’s footballers and hurlers spent their summers in the USA or Australia rather than on the West Cork playing fields over the past decade.

Refreshingly, Tim Buckley believes in looking forward and focussing on available players rather than dwelling on the past.

“You can go back as far as the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and see what waves of emigration did to Dunmanway and other towns around West Cork,” stated Tim Buckley.

“What happened was many young people from Dunmanway travelled to the USA (for example) and set themselves up in places like New York, Boston and San Francisco. That made it easier for guys to travel out during the summer as they now had a base and people from back home to rely on when they landed.

“I’ve noticed that setup become a bit of a trend once again over the last couple of years and it has meant GAA clubs like ourselves have ended up losing many of our best players for the entire summer.

“We in Dohenys choose to look forward, not back. Of course, you wish any person that goes travelling all the best but we now have turned our focus to the younger guys coming through and those living and working in the Dunmanway area.

“Thankfully, the economic trend has changed in this country over the last year or two and people are beginning to find work in the local area. We’ll have good numbers next year and we’re pleased with the way our squad is shaping up for the forthcoming championship.”

Interview with Nemo Rangers manager Larry Kavanagh

By Ger McCarthy

Kelleher Shield winning manager Larry Kavanagh sat down with the Southern Star’s Ger McCarthy and gave his opinion on a productive year for Nemo Rangers plus Carbery’s likely 2017 Cork SFC challengers.

(Published in the Southern Star – December 2016)

SouthernStar
As Nemo Rangers manager, Larry Kavanagh had an opportunity to cast a tactical eye over West Cork’s senior clubs over the past twelve months. So which teams impressed the Capwell side’s bainisteoir and the Carbery division’s chances of making an impact in the 2017 Cork SFC?

‘Obviously, I was impressed with Carbery Rangers the most and the way they finally went and won a first county senior football title,’ Kavanagh said.

‘In fairness to Carbery (Rangers), they have been knocking on the door for the last number of years with a record of one final and four or five semi-final appearances before winning it. They probably needed an ‘x-factor’ like Ronan McCarthy, someone outside the club, to bring in a fresh pair of eyes to the setup and help get them over the line.

‘I’m delighted for them because they have been challenging for a county (senior) championship for so long. It is a very easy thing to throw your hat at if you don’t achieve success after four or five years on the go. Fair play to Carbery Rangers though because you don’t win it yourself you want to see a deserving club step up and claim the Andy Scannell.’

nemo
Nemo Rangers recently overcame Castlehaven in a cracking encounter to claim the Kelleher Shield trophy. James McCarthy has since vacated the manager’s seat but Larry Kavanagh believes the Union Hall club will still be a force to be reckoned with this coming year.

‘I’d fully expect the Haven to challenge once again next year,’ admitted the Nemo Rangers bainisteoir.

‘Castlehaven kept going even after they got knocked out of the championship, completing all their league fixtures and then playing challenge matches against the likes of UCC right up until our recent Kelleher Shield final.

‘They are probably still smarting after getting beaten by Ballincollig in the championship down in West Cork but then Castlehaven never like losing anyway. I doubt they will dwell too long on losing another Kelleher Shield to be honest because they, like Nemo, are all about the championship and will probably be looking to play us again as quickly as they can.’

PERENNIAL
Aside from Carbery’s two perennial championship challengers, Clonakilty, O’Donovan Rossa and the Carbery division’s recent struggles at senior level have surprised the Nemo Rangers manager.

‘Clonakilty are another West Cork team who have surprisingly been struggling with relegation for the last while but Paul Holland has come in there and is trying to build a new team with a lot of young U21 and minor players,’ said Kavanagh.

‘They’ve gone well at U21 level but it looks like Paul and Clonakilty are involved in a long-term plan to bring these guys through before they’ll start challenging at senior level once again.

‘I’d say the same about O’Donovan Rossa, in that I was surprised they struggled this past year having got the semi-finals in 2015. Like Clon, Shane Crowley has brought through a lot of new, young players but they’ve been unlucky in that they met us (Nemo) two years in a row at the knockout stage of the Cork SFC and had to play so many divisional sides last year.

‘As for Carbery, this was the first time in four years since I and my fellow selectors got involved that we played a divisional side. In fact, we ended up playing three of them; Duhallow, Muskerry and then Carbery. On their day, Carbery, like any other division can be a real threat but it all depends on the persons in charge and the availability of club players during their preparation.’

VICTORY
Ballincollig ended Nemo’s interest in the 2016 senior championship following a 1-10 to 2-6 semi-final victory at Páric Uí Rinn. Claiming the Kelleher Shield before the end of the year represented a welcome bonus but Larry Kavanagh’s thoughts are already turning towards 2017 and a Cork SFC structure that needs rethinking.

‘It was nice to win it (Kelleher Shield) but at the same time, it wouldn’t have been a disaster if we lost either,’ Nemo’s manager admitted.

‘The lads took their closing league games seriously and there was a bit of pride involved too going up against a quality team like Castlehaven. The Kelleher Shield is the second most important trophy out there for senior football clubs so we are delighted to win it.

‘We are looking ahead to next year’s championship though as it is an incredibly tough competition to win. Any one of seven, eight, or even nine teams can win it.

‘What makes it so hard to win is the fact the competition is unnecessarily dragged out over such a long period of time. It would make for a much better competition for everyone involved if you had a shorter window to prepare for. It only takes about six games to win the thing so why not structure the championship to be completed inside an eight-week period?

‘Every team could prepare accordingly and peak at the right time instead of having to wait a couple of months to see who they’ll be playing next, not knowing if fellas will be away on holidays but more than anything, not being able prepare properly when the championship is staggered over an entire summer.’

West Cork challengers to Carbery Rangers

Which West Cork cubs will challenge Carbery Rangers in 2017?
By Ger McCarthy

Published in the Evening Echo – December 2016

Carbery Rangers end the year as county senior football kingpins but which West Cork sides are best placed to challenge the first-time champions in 2017? Ger McCarthy casts his eye over the Carbery Division’s senior club representative’s chances.

EveningEcho

From a West Cork point of view, it was refreshing to see the Andy Scannell Cup brought beyond the Viaduct once again following Carbery Rangers’ thrilling three-point victory over Ballincollig this past October.

The outpouring of emotion at the final whistle underlined what winning a first ever Cork SFC title meant to Rangers’ supporters as they celebrated on the Páirc Uí Rinn pitch and back home in Rosscarbery.

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A huge amount of goodwill from fellow West Cork clubs was palpable ahead of Ross’ county final appearance but rest assured that has since been replaced by a determination to knock the newly crowned champions off their perch.

Most of the Carbery division’s senior clubs will shortly begin their winter training programmes in the hope of emulating Rangers’ success so who, if anyone, is best placed to dethrone the champions?

 

CASTLEHAVEN

Champions in 2012 and 2013, runners-up in 2015, Castlehaven remain one of West Cork’s most consistent senior clubs yet have struggled to match their trademark intensity and consistent scoring ability since back-to-back titles three years ago.

The Union Hall club’s two epic encounters with Carbery Rangers in the fourth round of the county championship back in 2014 proved a turning point as the Rosscarbery club held their ground in a bruising 1-11 to 1-11 draw before triumphing in emphatic fashion, 2-14 to 1-8, in the subsequent replay.

Little doubt that Brian Hurley’s injury woes have stilted Castlehaven’s attack while an influx of U21’s including Conor Cahalane, Cathal Maguire and Michael Hurley are still finding their feet at senior level.

A new manager is needed to replace James McCarthy yet it’s clear that the Haven’ are the best placed West Cork club to challenge Carbery Rangers’ superiority next year.

A return to their past glories is possible provided Castlehaven’s problematic full-back line tightens up, Mark Collins and Damien Cahalane avoid serious injury and Brian Hurley makes a positive impact whenever the Cork inter-county forward returns.

 

CLONAKILTY

The Brewery Town put a traumatic, relegation-threatened 2015 campaign behind them by retaining their senior status with a much needed championship victory over St. Nick’s this past summer. CIT proved too strong in round three but a positive showing in their opening defeat to Castlehaven and improved league form points to a (potentially) productive 2017.

Paul Holland will look to his inter-county stalwarts Sean White and Tom Clancy for inspiration and build an emerging team around former minor and U21 talents David Lowney, Ross Mannix, Sean McEvoy, Liam O’Donovan and Mark White.

Clonakilty will be eager to at least challenge local rivals Carbery Rangers this coming season but a young squad, lacking experience at the business end of the Cork SFC may have to wait another year before realising its potential.

 

O’DONOVAN ROSSA

The sooner 2016 is over the better for O’Donovan Rossa’s senior footballers who suffered consecutive defeats to divisional sides Carbery and Avondhu before seeing off Clyda Rovers in a relegation play-off to save an otherwise underwhelming Cork SFC campaign.

Progress at county minor underage level has provided renewed hope in recent months and Skibbereen possesses an experienced panel more than capable of mixing it with the best in the county.

An injection of youth coupled with more consistency from Donal Óg Hodnett, Daniel Hazel and (if fit) Kevin Davis should see O’Donovan Rossa improve next year. That said, Rossa’s are still some way off challenging Carbery Rangers for top honours based on their past twelve months experiences.

Ned English’s arrival to replace the outgoing Shane Crowley (joining Carbery Rangers) should make for interesting times both on and off the pitch in Skibbereen during 2017.

 

NEWCESTOWN

The West Cork dual senior club don’t often get the credit they deserve for competing at the highest level on two separate fronts. Newcestown’s 2016 football campaign saw them overcome Aghada and UCC before Avondhu ended their interest in the competition at the fourth round stage.

The club’s hurlers descent into a Cork SHC relegation play-off suggests a renewed focus and effort to avoid a similar fate in the coming year might yet affect the footballer’s chances of building on another respectable Cork SFC showing.

That would be a pity as Newcestown have proven more than a match for their West Cork rival clubs in league and championship meetings during recent times but that extra gear required to take out a title-contender like Carbery Rangers is still missing.

 

ILEN ROVERS

Similar to O’Donovan Rossa, Ilen Rovers U21’s rather than their senior footballers dominated the club’s on-field exploits over the past twelve months. Winning a Carbery divisional U21 title before losing a county final to St. Finbarr’s underlines the burgeoning talent coming though Ilen’s ranks including Sean O’Donovan, Jack Bushe and Stephen Leonard.

Encouraging signs in the Cork SFC saw Rovers account for Dohenys and Carrigaline before pushing Castlehaven all the way in round four. So, 2017 is a massive year for Ilen as the West Cork club looks to build on their U21 success. Although capable of causing an upset or two, Rovers may have to wait before challenging for top honours.

 

DOHENYS

A Dohenys squad blighted by long-term injuries and the loss of several players to emigration meant last year’s Cork SFC campaign was always going to be an uphill struggle. So it proved, with an upcoming relegation play-off replay against St. Nick’s offering Dohenys last chance of registering a championship victory.

The proud West Cork club will look to incoming manager Tim Buckley plus their talented youth ranks in the hope of rebuilding over the coming years and where securing their senior status will be of paramount importance.

Posted in GAA

KILDARE UNDER KIERAN MCGEENEY

The following article was published on the Setanta Sports website as a GAA blog back in September 2013 looking back on Kieran McGeeney’s time as Kildare manager shortly after he received his marching orders from the Kildare County Board.
Ger McCarthy.

 

KILDARE UNDER KIERAN MCGEENEY
By Ger McCarthy

SetantaSports
Kildare GAA’s decision to oust senior football manager Kieran McGeeney was met with a cocktail of shock, bewilderment and incredulity across social media platforms on Tuesday night.

Senior squad member Emmet Bolton reflected many people’s views with a tweet asking why 58 delegates who rarely, if ever, watched the Kildare squad train let alone play felt compelled to get rid of the Armagh man after six years at the helm.

True, the former All-Ireland winning captain’s resume is far from stellar. No significant trophy was won under his stewardship and shipping heavy defeats to Meath and Cork in 2012 as well as conceding 4-16 to Dublin this past summer certainly doesn’t look good.

Nevertheless, it is worth remembering what state Kildare football was in before McGeeney took charge back in October 2007.

The previous three summer’s could best be described as awful with John Crofton (who resigned that July) presiding over an opening Leinster Championship defeat to Meath (2-11 to 1-8) before a narrow 3-point qualifier victory over Roscommon preceded a hugely disappointing 1-16 to 1-10 loss at home to Louth.

2006 wasn’t much to write home about either with Kildare suffering a  3-9 to 0-15 defeat at the hands of Offaly in the Leinster quarter-finals. A 5-point qualifier defeat of Cavan in Newbridge on June 24th was quickly forgotten when Derry eased past the Lilywhites 1-17 to 0-11 the following month.

All the good work done in defeating Wicklow and Westmeath to reach the 2005 Leinster championship semi-finals was undone by a 0-21 to 0-9 shellacking by Laois in Croke Park. The biggest disappointment of that summer was yet to arrive however as Sligo eked out a shock 1-11to 1-10 second round qualifier victory in Markievicz Park to end the lilywhite’s interest for another summer.

So if nothing else, McGeeney managed to restore some credibility to the county’s footballers following a difficult three-year period. His constant demand for the highest of standards (albeit at a monetary cost to the county board) saw Kildare qualify for the last eight of the championship in the following years.

Granted, things didn’t immediately go according to plan with a hugely disappointing first round 2008 Leinster championship defeat to Wicklow in Croke Park (Wicklow’s first ever senior championship victory there) raising doubts about the rookie coach’s abilities.

However, the Kildare squad quickly bought into McGeeney’s philosophy and rattled off a 1-point victory over Cavan, a 3-point defeat of Limerick and an impressive 6-point win over Fermanagh through the qualifiers to reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals in the Armagh manager’s first year in charge. The Lilywhites pushed Cork to the pin of their collar in their last-eight encounter and fought back from 2-5 to 0-5 down at half time to come within a whisker of taking the match to a replay.

The curve continued upwards with Dublin proving too strong in the following year’s provincial final to secure a fifth consecutive Leinster title. Offaly, Wexford and Laois had all been defeated en-route to reaching the Leinster decider before Wicklow were dispatched in round four of the qualifiers in Navan to setup a quarter-final against All-Ireland champions Tyrone.

The star-studded Red Hand side proved too strong for McGeeney’s charges on the day despite Dermot Earley’s heroic midfield efforts and ran out fortunate 0-16 to 1-11 winners.

Next, a shock 2010 Leinster championship defeat to Westmeath sent McGeeney back into the qualifiers where a 0-15 to 0-15 draw with Antrim in the opening round saw the Lilywhites travel to Belfast’s Casement Park for a difficult replay assignment.

A bruising 1-15 to 0-9 victory – in which John Doyle contributed 1-6 – got Kildare’s summer back on track preceding a straightforward 1-12 to 0-6 defeat of Leitrim, a stunning 2-17 to 1-9 win in Celtic Park to oust Derry and an equally impressive 4-point defeat of Monaghan in Croke Park.

The quarter-final stage had previously proven a graveyard for Kildare footballers and their supporters but a new-found inner belief allied with John Doyle’s scoring prowess saw the Lilywhites overcome Meath 2-17 to 1-12 on a memorable Croke Park afternoon.

The 2010 semi-finals saw McGeeney take on his old adversaries, Down, in another gripping Croke Park contest where only the width of a crossbar denied substitute Robert Kelly from grabbing an injury-time winner. Kildare were crestfallen at the full-time whistle, rueing their wayward shooting and the fact star midfielder Dermot Earley missed the game through injury.

Things were never quite the same for McGeeney or Kildare following that heart-breaking semi-final defeat as 2011 brought more provincial heartache at the hands of Dublin before qualifier wins over Meath and Derry setup a last-eight clash with Donegal at GAA headquarters.

What followed was one of the most sensational quarter-finals in the history of the tournament with Kevin Cassidy’s never to be forgotten long-range point securing a 1-12 to 0-14 extra-time victory for the Ulster side.

Another year, another last-gasp quarter-final loss.

2012 proved no different when McGeeney re-energised his squad following a Leinster championship loss to Meath by racking up consecutive qualifier wins over Cavan, Limerick (after extra time) and Sligo. Kildare were expected to test Conor Counihan’s free-flowing rebel attack in the last eight but the Leesiders had other ideas and blew McGeeney’s side away following a one-sided 2-19 to 0-12 hammering.

Dublin proved Kildare’s nemesis once again this past summer easing to a provincial 4-16 to 1-9 semi-final victory. Louth were easily dispatched in the first round of the qualifiers before the Lilywhites bowed out of the championship after a narrow loss to eventual All-Ireland semi-finalists Tyrone in Newbridge.

Whilst failing to deliver any silverware, Kieran McGeeney’s record is as favourable as any other inter-county manager over the past six years and especially when you take into account how far off the pace Kildare were back in 2007.

The Armagh man’s time with the Lilywhites will be best remembered for regularly reaching All-Ireland quarter-finals, one semi-final, helping rejuvenate their U21 squads and instilling a professional environment within the county’s senior squad .

The Kildare clubs have made their decision and the county board may well have a replacement in mind (Glen Ryan and Jason Ryan are likely candidates) but whoever takes over has big shoes to fill. One thing is for certain, Kildare GAA is in a far better place thanks to the dedication, professionalism and managerial ability of Kieran McGeeney.

Geezer is unlikely to be out of work for too long.

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