A special day for West Cork football

By Ger McCarthy

Last weekend saw Cork City FC’s home ground of Turner’s Cross host a West Cork League Beamish Cup final for the very first time. Here, Ger McCarthy reflects on an important day for football in the West Cork region as well as the West Cork Schoolboys League’s continuing rise in popularity and a cracking U14 Cup decider at the same venue.

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Irrespective of the result, last weekend’s SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys League U14 Cup decider and West Cork League Beamish Cup final showcased all that is good about football in the west Cork region.

The curtain-raiser between Ardfield and Skibbereen’s U14’s lived up to its pre-match billing with a terrific final involving thirteen Kennedy Cup squad members entertaining supporters over 70 engaging minutes.

Skibbereen’s clinical finishing proved the difference in the end, the Baltimore Road club securing a 3-1 victory plus U14 league and cup double, yet Ardfield showed why their young squad has a bright future ahead of them.

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Drinagh dominated the second half of Sunday’s Beamish Cup final yet Bantry Bay Rovers proved more than match for their opponents for much of the opening half. An inability to convert the two half-chances that came their way ultimately cost an up and coming Bay team on a day Rangers underlined their status as one of the most powerful teams in the region.

A 4-0 victory was richly deserved for a Drinagh side accustomed to taking their opportunities in cup finals over the past decade. Keith Jagoe (below) and Robert O’Regan were outstanding in the centre of the pitch and ably assisted by a livewire attack in which Gearoid White, Barry O’Driscoll (H) and Gavin Beamish shone.

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For their part and despite the loss, there is no doubt that Bay Rovers will bounce back. One or two seasons plying their trade in Division 1 will help a youthful Rovers squad find their feet once again before a quick return to the top tier of West Cork League football.

Bantry Bay Rovers could have little argument with the Beamish Cup final’s outcome though and will be disappointed at having conceded three of their four goals from set pieces. Clearly, Drinagh had their homework done and exploited a weakness in their opponents rearguard to maximum effect.

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Whilst goalscorers Barry O’Driscoll (H), Barry O’Driscoll (T), JJ Hurley and Keith Jagoe will naturally attract plenty of newspaper headlines, it is Drinagh’s defensive division that anchored the second of possibly three cup successes in 2017 for the Canon Crowley Park outfit.

Stand-in goalkeeper Rob Oldham kept a clean sheet and proved a safe pair of hands throughout the cup decider in the absence of injured Liam Cahalane. Yet, it was JJ Hurley, Barry O’Driscoll (T), JJ Collins and Darren Beamish’s composed defending that prevented a young Bay Rovers attack from finding the net.

Keith Jagoe and Robert O’Regan’s ability to shield their back four ensured there would be no Bantry Bay comeback.

Rangers are often lauded for their ability to score from multiple areas of the pitch but an experienced defence was just as important in Drinagh’s 2017 Beamish Cup success.

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Beamish Cup Final Teams

Drinagh Rangers: Robert Oldham, JJ Hurley, JJ Collins, Barry O’Driscoll (T), Darren Beamish, Robert O’Regan, Tomas Connolly, Gavin Beamish, Gearoid White, Barry O’Driscoll (H) and Keith Jagoe (captain).

Substitutes: Jamie Walsh, Shane Connolly, Adrian O’Driscoll, Stephen Crowley, Daniel McCarthy and Paraic White.

Bantry Bay Rovers: Donal Casey, Daniel Murray, Paul Drummey, Martin Hurley, Jamie McSweeney, David Daly, Brian Donovan (captain), Shane Drummey, Eoghan McElhinney, Gavin Johnson and Shane McSweeney.

Substitutes: Ciarán McElhinney, Shane Murray, Ricky Peters, Shaun O’Sullivan and Ross Leahy.

Referee: Paul McDermott. Assistant Referees: John Corcoran and Shane O’Neill. Fourth Official: Martin Coakley.

 

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Beamish Cup – The Final Four

The following West Cork League feature was published in the Southern Star newspaper analysing all four of this season’s West Cork League Beamish Cup semi-finalists ahead of the penultimate round of the prestigious competition. Enjoy. – Ger McCarthy.

SouthernStar

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BANTRY BAY ROVERS

Manager: Danny Peters

Captain: Brian O’Donovan

League form: Bay Rovers are currently embroiled in a dogfight to retain their PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division status. One place above Bunratty United at the bottom of the table, Bay faces an onerous task in retaining their top flight status in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Path to semi-final: An away trip Clonakilty AFC B marked Bay Rovers’ first Beamish Cup appearance of the season on January 15th. The opening round tie did not disappoint with the relegation-threatened side emerging 3-2 winners thanks to Gavin Johnson, Paul Drummey and Thomas Keavney efforts.

Johnson proved Bay’s hero in the second round, scoring twice to see off Kilmichael Rovers 2-0 before facing into a daunting trip away to Premier Division leaders Dunmanway Town. Rovers caused the biggest shock of the competition however, knocking out their fancied opponents 3-2 to book a place in the semi-finals. Gavin Johnson scored twice and Shane Drummey added another to cap a famous victory.

Main Man: Donal Casey. The young Bantry Bay Rovers player is amongst the best goalkeepers in the West Cork League Premier Division. Casey’s ability to keep clean sheets will be pivotal to Rovers’ chances of claiming the Beamish Cup.

How Bantry Bay Rovers can win the 2017 Beamish Cup: Bay Rovers possess an abundance of pace in a youthful line-up that includes Gavin Johnson, Shane McSweeney and Eoghan McElhinney. The Kealkil club will need that plus Martin Hurley’s composed defending if they to overcome two final hurdles.

Ger’s prediction: Castletown Celtic will most likely be dispatched in the semi-finals but Bantry Bay Rovers may not have enough attacking guile to overcome Drinagh in the decider.

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CASTLETOWN CELTIC

Manager: Gary Shannon

Captain: Jack O’Callaghan

League form: Finished mid-table in West Cork League Division 2 before embarking on an impressive Beamish Cup run. Fielding a relatively young squad, Castletown lost only once in the league at home all season (3-2 to Clonakilty Town) and would have challenged for promotion had they managed more than two wins on the road.

Path to semi-final: A first round trip to Lakestone Park ended in a 5-1 triumph over St. Martin’s, getting Castletown Celtic’s cup run off to the best possible start. The Castletownkenneigh side’s second round tie away to Baltimore proved a much tougher affair.

Tied 1-1 at the end of both normal and extra time, Celtic required penalties to prolong their presence in the competition and triumphed 4-2 to setup a quarter-final against rivals Riverside Athletic. A five-goal thriller saw the Division 2 side knock their Premier Division opponents out of the Beamish Cup courtesy of Billy O’Brien (penalty), Fergal Kelleher and Kevin O’Donovan goals.

Main Man: Fergal Kelleher. Produced a terrific individual display in the heart of Celtic’s back four during his team’s quarter-final win over Riverside and will be equally important against Bantry Bay Rovers.

How Castletown Celtic can win the 2017 Beamish Cup: Castletown head into the semi-final round as rank outsiders but that will not bother the Castletownkenneigh club one iota. Celtic requires their two best performances of the season to have any hope of overcoming Bay Rovers and (probably) Drinagh Rangers but stranger things have happened in the Beamish Cup.

Ger’s prediction: Castletown are hitting form at just the right time albeit a little late in the season. Resolute in defence, Celtic lack the clinical finishing needed to overcome Bantry Bay Rovers in the penultimate round.

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CLONAKILTY TOWN

Manager: John ‘Mousey’ Leahy

Captain: Finbarr Butler

League form: Clonakilty Town are the 2017 West Cork League Division 2 champions. An outstanding season concluded with the Darrara-based club seeing off Durrus, Clonakilty AFC B and Drinagh Rangers B to lift the trophy.

A record of 15 wins, 2 draws and a solitary defeat from their 18 league fixtures solidified Town’s status as the most consistent team in Division 2. Clonakilty’s league success was based on a vibrant attack that scored a league-high 63 goals.

Path to semi-final: Town began their Beamish Cup odyssey with a tough away assignment against Courtmacsherry in Coolbawn on January 15th. Sean O’Reilly (2), Jonathan Leahy and Daniel Lane found the net in a 4-1 triumph to setup a second round meeting with Premier League side Ballydehob.

Clonakilty produced a marvellous display to defeat their opponents 4-2 with Sean O’Reilly, Jonathan Leahy, John Hayes and Alan Murphy getting on the score-sheet. An epic quarter-final against Division 1 champions Spartak Mossgrove produced the standout tie of this year’s Beamish Cup. 2-2 at the final whistle, the sides couldn’t be separated after extra-time resulting in penalty shootout which Clon edged 4-3.

Main Man: Sean O’Reilly. The former Ardfield striker has suffered an injury-plagued season but remains one of Clonakilty Town’s most potent attacking weapons.

How Clonakilty Town can win the 2017 Beamish Cup: In short, go defensive and look to hit Drinagh on the counter-attack. Town have nothing to lose and that makes them dangerous underdogs capable of causing an upset in both the penultimate and final rounds.

Ger’s prediction: Clonakilty Town have enjoyed a memorable campaign but will find an experienced Drinagh Rangers a bridge too far in the Beamish Cup semi-finals.

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DRINAGH RANGERS

Managers: Don Hurley and Declan Deasy

Captain: Keith Jagoe

League form: Drinagh are currently battling Dunmanway Town for this season’s PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division trophy. A point behind the Mohona club following last weekend’s results, Rangers have yet to suffer a league defeat during another impressive campaign.

Don Hurley and Declan Deasy’s side also enjoyed a magnificent run in this year’s Munster Junior Cup, reaching the last 32 before bowing out to Waterford Crystal 5-4 after extra-time. The Canon Crowley Park club are in excellent form and capable of ending their season with a trophy.

Path to semi-final: Rangers received a bye in the opening round before travelling to Town Park for a meeting with fellow Premier Division club Bunratty United. A comfortable 6-0 victory was attained thanks to a Barry O’Driscoll (H) hat-trick plus additional Barry O’Driscoll (T), Jamie Walsh and Gearoid White strikes. O’Driscoll (T)’s lone effort was enough to see off Leeside 1-0 in a quarter-final victory at Inchigeela.

Main Man: Barry O’Driscoll (H). One of the West Cork League’s most prolific strikers is enjoying another stellar campaign up front for Drinagh. A natural finisher, O’Driscoll (H)’s ability to knit midfield with attack will be crucial to his side’s chances of league and cup success.

How Drinagh can win the 2017 Beamish Cup: Drinagh’s best chance of lifting the famous trophy rests on not taking Clonakilty Town for granted in their upcoming semi-final or being sidetracked by a Premier Division title-battle. Possessing an experienced core, Rangers have a squad capable of winning the Beamish Cup.

Ger’s prediction:  Drinagh Rangers will overcome Clonakilty Town after extra-time before seeing off Bantry Bay Rovers in the Beamish Cup decider.

 

Beamish Cup hotting up

This is an article I penned for the Southern Star recently, getting the opinion of three of the four 2017 West Cork League Beamish Cup semi-finalist’s managers ahead of the peultimate round of the prestigious competition – Ger McCarthy.

 

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This season’s West Cork League Beamish Cup semi-finalists have been decided with Bantry Bay Rovers, Clonakilty Town, Drinagh Rangers and Castletown Celtic progressing to the last four of the region’s premier knockout competition .

We are reaching an exciting conclusion to the 2017 West Cork League season and last weekend’s dramatic Beamish Cup quarter-finals didn’t disappoint. Bantry Bay Rovers made headline news by travelling to Mohona and inflicting a 3-2 defeat on Premier League leaders Dunmanway Town, a result that thrilled manager Danny Peters.

‘Each and every Bay Rovers player worked extremely hard to produce a magnificent result at Dunmanway,’ Peters admitted.

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‘Our league position is not the best even though it is very tight this year. Yet, we knew that we had nothing to lose travelling to Dunmanway and having played really well in only going down 1-0 the previous time we met in Kealkil.

‘I simply told my players to go out, enjoy the game and that they could win it if they wanted it badly enough. They never gave up and it is a great achievement by the lads because no one tipped us to beat Dunmanway on their home ground.

‘We last won the Beamish Cup in 1997 and have twice reached the quarter-finals since I took over as manager. This result is a great achievement for the club. Look at our underage success right now and if that can filter through to the first team then the club will be in an even healthier position.’

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Drinagh Rangers are perennial league and cup contenders but were pushed all the way before edging Leeside 1-0 in Inchigeela last weekend. Such a hard-fought win can only stand to a Rangers team that will be heavy favourites – irrespective of who they draw – in the last four but co-manager Declan Deasy is taking nothing for granted.

‘To be in with a shout of winning a cup or a league is where we (Drinagh) want to be at the business end of every season,’ said Deasy.

‘We were made to work extremely hard by a very good Leeside team. If you don’t concede goals then you have a chance in any game and our defence and team was solid before we got the vital break to win 1-0.

‘To be honest, Drinagh Rangers hasn’t a fabulous record in the Beamish Cup or any of the cup West Cork competitions for that matter. We have always focussed on winning the league and been relatively successful at doing that over the years. We have only lifted the Beamish Cup three times in the club’s history so any time you get within touching distance of it you want to make a go of winning it.’

As impressive as Bantry Bay Rovers and Drinagh’s hard-fought quarter-final victories were, both were overshadowed by Division 2 champions Clonakilty Town’s epic penalty shoot-out win over Spartak Mossgrove.

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‘This is our club’s first time reaching the Beamish Cup semi-finals,’ announced a delighted Clon Town manager, John Leahy.

‘Our lads deserve it though as we only had 12 players available to us against Spartak for various reasons. So, it was an outstanding performance to come through on penalties and after extra-time with such a small panel of players.

‘There are some class teams left in the competition alright and we will be underdogs no matter who we are drawn against but if we have our full-strength team out then we should have absolutely nothing to fear.

‘Winning the Division 2 League has definitely helped develop a winning mentality within the team, no matter who comes in and plays for us. Beating a quality side like Spartak Mossgrove will bring us on too and I’d like to thank Clonakilty AFC for allowing us to use their Ballyvackey pitch this past weekend.

‘Hopefully we will have a full squad to choose from when the semi-finals come around otherwise myself or the experienced Aidan McCarthy might be forced to tog off!”.

A cracking conclusion to the 2017 Beamish Cup awaits with three clubs hungry for success and set to be joined by Castletown Celtic in the last four.

SouthernStar

Retro – 2012 U12 League Final

The following SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys U12 Premier League final match report was published in the Evening Echo on Tuesday May 22nd 2012.

Bantry Bay Rovers U12 kicked-off needing a draw to claim a League and Cup ‘double’ while their opponents, Lyre Rovers, required a victory to deny the Kealkil club the trophy.

Enjoy. – Ger McCarthy.

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DATE OF MATCH: Thursday 18th May 2012
VENUE: Lyre, West Cork
FINAL SCORE: Lyre Rovers 1 Bantry Bay Rovers 2

Bantry Bay Rovers completed a SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys U12 League and Cup double following a 2-1 victory away to Lyre Rovers last week.

The final SuperValu U12 Premier League fixture of the 2012 season saw leaders Bantry Bay Rovers facing second placed Lyre Rovers with the Kealkil club needing only a point to claim the title. A large crowd attended the eagerly anticipated matchup between the top two sides in the U12 age-grade with home side, Lyre Rovers, quickly into their stride.

Shane Murray’s excellent positioning helped Bantry repel Lyre’s early attacks and the visitors grabbed a 7th minute lead through an opportunistic free-kick from the young defender.

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Lyre were caught napping as Murray’s long range strike found the back of the net despite a crowded penalty box meaning the home side now needed to score twice to claim the championship.

Christian Buttimer, Ciarán Nyhan and Brian O’Donovan were instrumental in hauling the home side back into the match and a period of sustained pressure eventually reaped dividends. Brian O’Donovan latched onto a poor Bay clearance from a corner and although his initial effort was blocked, Christian Buttimer made no mistake from the rebound by drilling a low shot beyond Thomas Flynn to level the score at 1-1.

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Lyre failed to capitalise on that equaliser with a succession of attacks floundering in the final third due to some wayward passing and finishing.

Bay Rovers assumed control of the match either side of the interval with Ryan O’Sullivan, Darragh McElhinney and Sean O’Sullivan’s influence forcing their opponents to defend deep.

Lyre’s Brian Deasy hacked off his own line before Bantry’s persistence produced a second and match-winning goal. Sean O’Sullivan gained possession deep in Rovers territory and was able to pick out Darragh McElhinney inside the Lyre penalty area. The young midfielder evaded a challenge before crashing an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.

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The visitors should have added to their total shortly afterwards but were denied by a marvellous Colm O’Donovan save and yet another Brian Deasy goal line clearance. Lyre pressed hard for a way back into the game only to encounter a well-organised Bay Rovers defence who firmly shut the door on a comeback with some terrific defending.

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There were scenes of wild celebrations at the final whistle with Bantry Bay Rovers players and supporters celebrating a SuperValu WCSL League and Cup triumph. WCSL Fixtures Secretary Richie Collins presented the Kealkil club with their league trophy to conclude another memorable U12 season.

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SuperValu Man of the Match: Darragh McElhinney of Bantry Bay Rovers

Lyre Rovers: Colm O’Donovan, Ciaran O’Neill, Jamie O’Donovan, Jamie Santry, Brian Deasy (Captain), Killian O’Driscoll, Ronan McCarthy, Thomas Palmer, Ciarán Nyhan, Brian O’Donovan, Christian Buttimer Cian O’Donoghue, Cathal Dineen, Padraigh Cullinane, Michael O’Brien and Connor Hurley.

Bantry Bay Rovers: Patrick Barry, Shane Buckley, Dylan Clifford, James Crowley, John Endersen, Thomas Flynn (Captain), Rudi Gaffney, Darragh McElhinney, Sebastian Milanowski, Shane Murray, Timothy O’Driscoll, David O’Sullivan, Ryan O’Sullivan, Sean O’Sullivan, Kuba Ratajczak and Botond Rózsa.

Referee: Paul McDermott (WCSL)

West Cork boosted by expanded Womens league

West Cork League boosted by expanded Womens league
By Ger McCarthy
(published in the Southern Star – November 2016).

SouthernStar

An increased number of participants competing in this season’s Irish Examiner West Cork Women’s League bodes well for the future expansion of the game across the entire region.

There’s little doubt that West Cork women’s adult and schoolgirls football has been on the wane in recent years but a new FAI nationwide initiative plus an infusion of emerging talent suggests a brighter future lies ahead for the sport.

Earlier this year, West Cork was selected by the FAI as one of the designated areas for a new ‘Live Your Goals’ campaign which took place at Skibbereen AFC’s Baltimore Road ground. Officially launched by FIFA at the 2011 Women’s World Cup finals, Live Your Goals is an ongoing worldwide campaign aimed at inspiring young girls and women to play football.

‘The key aim of the campaign is to ensure that football is the number one sport for females across the globe in terms of participation and popularity,’ said FAI National Coordinator for women’s football, Emma Martin.fai
‘We (the FAI) came to West Cork because it is a huge region and we are determined to rebuild underage structures so that women’s football has a long-term future. As an association, we simply want to reenergise young girls’ interest in the sport and get them actively involved with clubs from their local area.’

The FAI’s Live Your Goals proved a hugely successful event, so much so that the WCSL’s Emerging Talent Programme decided to expand its growing numbers to incorporate a schoolgirls squad for the coming year.

Yet, would a successful FAI initiative plus a new Emerging Talent Programme for schoolgirl footballers make any difference to the West Cork adult setup?

The answer is a resounding yes.

Following successive years of round-robin mini-leagues, the 2016-17’ Irish Examiner West Cork Women’s League will have seven clubs competing for the league and cup honours.

Drinagh Rangers (reigning champions), Beara United, Kilmichael Rovers and Bunratty United are joined by Inter Kenmare, Bantry Bay Rovers and Dunmanway Town with this season’s newcomers already breathing new life into a previously stagnant setup.

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Bantry Bay Rovers are one of the best known clubs in the region and the addition of a women’s team underlines the dedicated work being carried out both on and off the pitch in Kealkil, something Deirdre O’Donovan and her teammates are hoping to capitalise on.

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‘I would estimate that Bay Rovers has not competed at ladies league level in West Cork for well over a decade,’ O’Donovan commented.

‘A large number of female enthusiasts were anxious to get involved with the West Cork League once again. We felt there was an opportunity to put a decent squad together considering the amount of Bay Rovers teams being fielded at schoolboys and junior (men’s) level. Why not a women’s team as well?’

Kerry-based club Inter Kenmare makes a welcome return to this season’s WCL women’s setup and are determined to play a major role in the revamped league.

‘Inter Kenmare are delighted to be back and are hoping to build on the expanded setup in West Cork,’ stated Kenmare’s Majella O’Sullivan.

‘There are seven teams taking part this year which is fantastic and we are hoping to use the opportunity to get more people, especially younger players, involved with Inter Kenmare. One of the few trophies to evade our grasp is the West Cork Women’s League title. We have won Kerry league championships and even Munster Juniors cups but never the big one from this region so we are really looking forward to the new campaign.’

GOS Auto Accessories (Macroom) Cup holders Kilmichael Rovers are another club benefiting from a resurgence of interest throughout their local area.

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‘We have 30 registered players in our squad for the coming season compared to only 13 or 14 over the past few years so the future is definitely looking bright,’ stated Kilmichael Rovers club stalwart Niamh Cotter.

‘Last year there were only four teams involved so I believe having an expanded division is brilliant news for West Cork women’s football.

‘Beating Beara on penalties to win last season’s cup final was absolutely fantastic for the club and surrounding community. There aren’t too many sports for young girls to get involved in living in a rural area like ours, so seeing Kilmichael win a trophy was a massive boost and will hopefully encourage more girls to take up football in the next couple of years.’

PROSPECT

Speaking of Beara United, last season’s cup runners-up are another West Cork women’s club delighted at the prospect of welcoming a host of new players onto an already talented squad.

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‘An increase in the number of teams is definitely a bonus for women’s soccer in West Cork and Beara will hopefully benefit from the extra competition,’ commented United’s Claire Power.

‘This is the first time in many years that Beara has the opportunity to welcome some new, young players into our squad. We also have some experienced players returning from injury and others coming back having taken time off so Beara will have a much bigger panel to choose from in 2016-17’.

‘Getting to last season’s cup final showed what we are capable of but what is far more important is demonstrating to the younger female players from around Castletownbere just what can be achieved by being part of our club.

‘Being from such a rural area means we won’t have any players transferring in so it is very much a home-grown setup. I have been involved since we first began seven years ago and looking ahead, we are aiming to get back into another cup final and hopefully a different result this time around!’

There is still much work to do be done, especially at schoolgirl’s level where young female footballers are permitted to compete within their equivalent schoolboys leagues but not as standalone teams.

Yet, the signs are positive as increased numbers at adult level, a developing ETP squad plus the FAI’s increased commitment suggesting West Cork women’s football is set to make a big impact in the coming years.