5 West Cork League Things To Look Forward To

5 West Cork League Things To Look Forward To
By Ger McCarthy

 

WCL

 

1. Will Drinagh heap further misery on Clonakilty AFC?

Contrasting fortunes for Clonakilty AFC and Drinagh Rangers following the first weekend of WCL Premier Division fixtures with the former suffering a hiding at Ballydehob while the latter got their campaign off to a winning start at the expense of Spartak Mossgrove.

To be fair to Clon, they always put it up to Drinagh, home and away, each season but require a full-strength line-up to prevent the visitors from making it maximum points after two games in Inchydoney this weekend.

A fixture that regularly produces plenty of goals is unlikely to disappoint on Sunday but Rangers’ ominous early season form gives the Canon Crowley Park side an excellent chance of widening the gap to the chasing pack after only two rounds of games.

 

 

2. Can Togher and Spartak get off the mark?

Newly promoted Spartak Mossgrove gave a fine account of themselves before going down 3-0 to Drinagh last Saturday and will hope home advantage is enough to see off Togher Celtic this weekend.

On the same weekend, their upcoming opponents came out the wrong end of a 2-1 result at home to Riverside, heightening the necessity to get their season up and running as soon as possible.

Neither club will want to face into round three of the Premier Division without having put some points on the board so an entertaining and open game is expected in the Convent Grounds, Bandon. If Spartak are to realise their potential as a challenger rather than a promoted team avoiding relegation then defeating an established Premier club like Togher would represent an important step in the right direction.

 

dunmanway-town

 

3. Will Dunmanway get that elusive first win?

It’s not been the start the defending 2017 Premier Division champions would have wished for, losing the Michael Cronin Cup final to Drinagh on penalties before being held to a 1-1 draw by newly promoted Lyre Rovers in their league opener earlier in the week.

Avoiding defeat away to Riverside Athletic is essential on Sunday otherwise Dunmanway could find themselves playing catchup to the early season pacesetters just two weeks into the new campaign.

Sunday week’s Keane’s Jewellers League Champions first round tie away to Doolans Cow means Dunmanway will fall another game behind their title rivals so although it is early in the season, any kind of victory away to Riverside would represent a welcome boost for the Mohona side.

A word too for Lyre, who showed what they are capable of at the top level by holding champions Dunmanway Town to a draw. Rovers’ ability to pick up points against established title-challengers such as Dunmanway will go a long way to delivering a positive first season back in the top flight. Could Lyre and not fellow promoted side Spartak Mossgrove be the surprise package of 2018?

 

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4. Are Bunratty United the real deal?

Bunratty’s relegation from the Premier Division came as little surprise following the Town Park side’s poor record of one win from sixteen league games plus the worst defence in the top flight (conceding 56 goals) during 2016-17′.

Yet, United’s superb underage structure has delivered multiple successes at Schoolboys and U18 level over the past three years and some of those graduates have since emerged onto the first team, giving hope of a brighter future at junior level.

To underline that point, Bunratty made a clear statement of intent on the opening weekend of the new Division 1 season by firing seven past Durrus. A reversal of last weekend’s fixture gives an emerging United team every chance of registering another three points on Sunday. Momentum is building down in Schull.

 

 

5. Will Division 2 top of the table clashes deliver potential title-challengers?

Granted, it’s early days but the outcome of Sunday’s Sullane versus Drinagh Rangers B meeting in Coolea could yet have a big influence on the final Division 2 League standings at the end of the season.

Both sides got off to positive starts with Sullane firing six past Courtmacsherry on the same day Rangers B edged Castletown Celtic 5-4. Scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem for either side so the outcome of Sunday’s top of the table clash may depend on whoever puts in the best defensive display. A cracking game is anticipated where home advantage might edge the result in Sullane’s favour.

Aultagh Celtic and Baltimore are two other Division 2 clubs harbouring promotion aspirations and both will be eager to maintain their winning starts. Celtic defeated Castlelack last weekend while the Crabs proved too strong for Dunmanway Town B. The opportunity to accrue six points from their opening two games should guarantee an exciting encounter.

 

CastletownCeltic

 

FIXTURES

Sunday, September 3rd 2017

PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division
Clonakilty AFC v Drinagh Rangers at 11am
Riverside Athletic v Dunmanway Town at 11am
Leeside v Ballydehob at 2pm
Spartak Mossgrove v Togher Celtic at 2pm

OBrienWaterServices.com Division 1
Durrus v Bunratty United at 11am
Bantry Bay Rovers v Mizen AFC at2.30pm
Crookstown v Skibbereen at 2.30pm

West Cork League Division 2
Ardfield v Lyre Rovers B in Carrigroe at 11am
Aultagh Celtic v Baltimore at 11am
Castlelack v Castletown Celtic at 11am
Sullane v Drinagh Rangers B at 11am
Courtmacsherry v Dunmanway Town B at 2.30pm

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7 WCL things to look forward to

7 West Cork League things to look forward to this weekend
By Ger McCarthy

 

  1. Football is back

A new West Cork League season begins this weekend with all three divisions packed full of intriguing matchups, none more so than in the PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division where defending champions Dunmanway Town face an early test of their credentials at home to Lyre Rovers.

Winning one title is difficult enough but defending that championship is even harder and Town will need to hit the ground running considering the wealth of talent amongst the top tier this season. Much will depend on Mark Buckley’s scoring ability but Dunmanway start as favourites.

WCL

  1. Drinagh begin their title challenge

One of the most decorated clubs in the WCL welcome Spartak Mossgrove to Canon Crowley Park on Sunday, eager to start their campaign in the best possible fashion.

Rangers have already claimed the Michael Cronin Cup following a penalty shootout victory over arch rivals Dunmanway but a sustained Premier Division title challenge requires a positive start. A big question heading into the 2017-18 season is can Drinagh turn Beamish and Parkway Cup successes into another league triumph?

drinaghrangers

  1. New boys first taste of top tier action

Spartak Mossgrove and Lyre Rovers make their 2017 Premier Division debuts away from home this weekend having both come up through Divisions 1 and 2 over the past couple of years.

Spartak have shown, in cup competitions at least, that they can challenge the established Premier clubs while Lyre possesses an emerging squad that will not be overawed by competing in the top tier.

It will be fascinating to see how both clubs fare over the next nine months and any points picked up away from home would be a welcome morale-boost on Sunday.

lyrerovers2

  1. Leeside’s greatest challenge

One of the West Cork League’s longest serving clubs face into another Premier Division campaign as one of the favourites to go down. Leeside have specialised in avoiding the drop over the past number of years but news that their Inchigeela home ground is no longer available to them comes as a serious blow on the eve of the new season. Not playing this weekend, Leeside need all the help they can get before a ball is kicked.

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  1. Can ‘the dependables’ step up to the plate?

Togher Celtic and Riverside Athletics’ opening-day meeting brings together two of the Premier Division’s most consistent and dependable clubs, the former having won last season’s Premier Cup and the latter only two seasons removed from winning the championship without losing a game.

Both sides will be without players that lined out in the previous campaign and it is a big ask for Togher and Riverside to step up and challenge the Dunmanway and Drinagh’s of the top tier. Yet, neither Celtic nor Athletic should fear anyone on their home grounds and are capable of pushing the top two before seasons end.

riversideathletic

  1. Division 1 title-race could be the best of the lot

Gaining promotion to the promised land of the PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier will be on the minds of the West Cork League’s middle tier Division 1 league clubs who start their respective campaigns this weekend.

Bantry Bay Rovers lost their top flight status following a play-off loss to Ballydehob at the tail-end of last season but a Beamish Cup final appearance at Turner’s Cross suggests the Kealkil club are capable of bouncing straight back.

Bunratty United were also relegated last term and Gabriel Rangers GAA successes has hit the Town Park club’s aspirations hard. Yet, United will still be in the mix for promotion along with a resurgent Clonakilty Town plus Skibbereen, Crookstown and Durrus sides eager for their chance to move up to the top division.

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Skibbereen
  1. Another Division 2 dogfight on the horizon

Division 2 of the WCL remains the toughest and most unpredictable league in the region. Sullane and Baltimore begin life in the bottom tier having been relegated last season and both will be anxious to go straight back up.

A victory over Courtmacsherry would represent the perfect start for the Coolea club  as would a win for the Crabs at home to Dunmanway B on Sunday. Castletown Celtic, Castlelack, Ardfield and Drinagh Rangers B are all capable of taking points off the Division 2 favourites in  another promotion race that looks like it will go right to the wire.

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Baltimore FC

 

 

Crookstown Win The WCL Division1 Cup

The following is a match report covering the 2017 West Cork League Division 1 Cup final between Crookstown and Baltimore. Published in the Southern Star in March 2017. Enjoy – Ger McCarthy

SouthernStar

CROOKSTOWN WIN THE CUP
BALTIMORE    1
CROOKSTOWN    2
Ger McCarthy reports

They left it late but Crookstown deservedly took home the West Cork League McCarthy Sports Division 1 Cup trophy at the expense of Baltimore at a blustery Lyre.

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Crookstown – 2017 WCL Division1 Cup winners.

Down 1-0 to a Kieran Lynch opener, Crookstown used all their experience to drag themselves back into contention before netting an equaliser early in the second period. The prospect of extra-time loomed large until Michael Kelleher forced the ball home following a frantic goalmouth scramble 5 minutes from the end to win the trophy for a delighted Crookstown manager Tim Irwin.
‘It is hugely important that Crookstown won this trophy as we are trying and bring in younger players all the time but more importantly just to keep the club going,’ Irwin commented.

‘We finished our league programme very early this year and apart from the semi-final we hadn’t played a competitive game in over a month. I thought we started very slowly because of that and also the fact we were missing key players.’

‘I just hope this cup success helps attract more players to the club and that’s what it is all about really.’

Strangely, Baltimore decided to kick off with only ten outfield players as they awaited the arrival of Stephen Leonard. Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Crabs got off to the best possible start by breaking the deadlock after 5 minutes.

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Baltimore AFC – 2017 WCL Divisi0n 1 Cup finalists

Dan McEoin lined up a free-kick 15 yards outside the Crookstown penalty box and his stinging effort brought the best out of Dean Knight. The Crookstown goalkeeper’s parry was seized upon by Kieran Lynch however and the Baltimore striker fired home from close range.

James Kelleher and Darren Shine pressed forward in search of an equaliser but Crookstown’s cause wasn’t helped by the loss of midfielder Colm Crowley to injury shortly after falling behind.

Buoyed by their early breakthrough, Baltimore defended in numbers and counter-attacked whenever an opportunity arose. Utilising Kieran Lynch and Paddy Minihane’s combined abilities, the Crabs enjoyed a productive spell which included another Dan MacEoin free-kick that struck the side-netting.

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2017 WCSL Division1 Cup Final

Their opponents threatened sporadically but an inability to find a way past a solid Baltimore back four (with Brian Leonard in imperious form) meant the score remained unchanged at the half hour mark.

Stephen Leonard’s introduction had an immediate impact with James Kelleher and Charles Kenneally having to deflect away consecutive goal-bound attempts by the Baltimore striker. Despite diligent approach work, Crookstown’s struggles continued and they were fortunate not to fall further behind when Brian Leonard’s cross-come-shot flicked off the crossbar 9 minutes before the interval.

IMPROVED
Crookstown were much improved in the second period, Andrew Kenneally forcing Christy Hodnett into a save and James Kelleher fizzing a cross into the six-yard box that required a hasty clearance 3 minutes after the restart.

The Crabs swift-footed attack remained a constant threat throughout the second half and Noel Collins appeared to have made it 2-0 following a breakaway only to have his effort ruled out for a handball infringement.

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Undeterred, Crookstown’s attacks increased and they drew level with a superbly crafted equaliser after 54 minutes. James Kelleher drifted infield and released John O’Mullane. The Crookstown striker still had plenty to do but struck a well-placed shot beyond Christy Hodnett to bring parity to the score.

O’Mullane fired another effort inches over as a frustrated Baltimore struggled to match the intensity of their first half display. The Crabs made little headway against an increasingly confident Crookstown defence and were restricted to long-range attempts in an effort to retake the lead.

Crookstown looked the more likely to score and twice came within inches of making it 2-1when Michael Kelleher’s shot was deflected away for a corner and Donal Corkery headed the resulting set-piece inches over.

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Baltimore had chances too, Kieran Lynch forcing Dean Knight into a full-length stop but the score remained 1-1 with 10 minutes to go. Christy Hodnett produced a superb one-handed save to prevent a James Kelleher free-kick from hitting the net but Baltimore’s defence failed to heed that warning and were punished shortly after.

An in-swinging Donal Corkery corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble but Michael Kelleher somehow forced the ball over the line to edge Crookstown ahead for the first time with 5 minutes remaining.

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Baltimore had one final chance to take the decider to extra-time but Kieran Lynch’s free-kick struck the butt of an upright and was hacked to safety. Crookstown comfortably maintained their lead following that late scare and ran out deserving 2-1 winners.

STAR PLAYER

Donal Corkery of Crookstown

A first half substitute for the injured Colm Crowley, Donal Corkery made his presence felt with an all-action display in the centre of the pitch. Corkery’s performance helped Crookstown turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory.

 

TEAMS

Baltimore: Christy Hodnett, Brian Leonard, Aidan Murphy, Dave Ryan, Sean B O’Donovan (captain), Paddy Minihane, Conor Harrington, Noel Collins, Stephen Leonard, Dan MacEoin and Kieran Lynch.

Substitutes: Diarmuid Collins, Brian Minihane, Shane O’Donovan, Gary O’Donovan and Kieran O’Driscoll.

Crookstown: Dean Knight, Michael Kelleher, Liam Wall, Charles Kenneally (captain), Michael Deasy, James Kelleher, Colm Crowley, Andrew Kenneally, Michael Quinlavin, John O’Mullane and Darren Shine.

Substitutes: Tim Irwin, Donal Corkery and Diarmuid Scannell.

Referee: Tim McDermott

Assistant Referees: Anthony McDermott and Patrick Hurley

 

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

bantrybayrovers

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.

WCL

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.

ClonTown
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.

drinaghrangers
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.

 

SouthernStar

 

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.

bantrybayrovers
‘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.’

drinaghrangers
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.

ClonTown
‘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

Leesons Learned – Oscar Traynor Cup

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).

 

SouthernStar

 

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Dunmanway Town’s Jerry McCarthy closing down a Kerry DL defender (Photo: Ger McCarthy).

 

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.

 

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West Cork League v Kerry District League (Photo: Ger McCarthy).

 

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.

 

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Kerry DL launch another attack on the WCL goal (Photo: Ger McCarthy).

 

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.

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West Cork League v Kerry District League (Photo: Ger McCarthy).

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.

 

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West Cork League v Kerry District League (Photo: Ger McCarthy).

 

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.

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A West Cork League substitutes bench packed with talent v Kerry DL (Photo: Ger McCarthy).

 

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.

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West Cork League v Kerry District League (Photo: GerMcCarthy).