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.

 

3 things learned from Drinagh v Skibbereen

My reaction to today’s West Cork League Parkway Hotel/Maybury Coaches Cup final between Drinagh Rangers and Skibbereen.

By Ger McCarthy

 

 

A sleeping giant shows signs of awakening

Skibbereen’s fall from grace, once one of the West Cork League’s perennial Premier Division title challengers to struggling at the wrong end of the Division 1 table, represents one of the saddest storylines in local football.

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Skibbereen

Yet, the Baltimore Road club showed enough guts and no little amount of skill in pushing Premier Division opponents and long time rivals Drinagh all the way in Sunday’s Parkway Hotel/Maybury Coaches Cup decider to suggest there is life in one of the West Cork League’s most famous clubs.

There is enough experience amongst the likes of JP Reen, James Reen and John Hodnett plus the emerging talent of Cian Coughlan to build Skibbereen’s future on.

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Yes, new blood is definitely needed but Skibbereen AFC showed with the right attitude and application that they are capable of getting back to the West Cork League’s top tier.

Skibbereen AFC’s proud football dynasty demands they should be competing amongst the region’s elite. Reorganising and recruiting make this coming off-season one of the most important in the Baltimore Road club’s history.

 

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Drinagh Rangers

Same old Drinagh, always winning

The sight of Drinagh captain Keith Jagoe holding aloft the Parkway Hotel/Maybury Coaches Cup was a timely reminder of the Canon Crowley Park side’s prowess heading towards their upcoming Beamish Cup final at Turner’s Cross.

In a season their Premier Division title hopes were crushed by local rivals Dunmanway Town, Drinagh showed they could still grind out a cup final victory rather than rely on their usual finesse.

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Barry O’Driscoll (H) and Gearoid White were both guilty of squandering multiple chances they’d normally convert.

Yet, Drinagh still managed to score the all important winner and then defend it superbly despite Skibbereen’s late onslaught before deservedly holding aloft a trophy that had previously eluded them.

What Easter Sunday’s victory showed more than anything else is that there is much work to be done ahead of their Beamish Cup decider against a younger, faster, more clinical Bantry Bay Rovers.

That will suit co-managers Don Hurley and Declan Deasy perfectly however and their experienced squad know the hard work starts this week if they are to add another trophy to the cabinet.

 

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West Cork League football in a healthy state

It was refreshing to see a large crowd at Mohona on Easter Sunday for the final of a competition that rarely attracts such interest.

Drinagh and Skibbereen supporters in attendance were treated to a tough, hard-fought encounter full of goalmouth incidents and plenty of debatable decisions.

That’s what West Cork League football is all about though. Controversial decisions as important as results, points and trophies down this neck of the woods.

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Plenty of skill on display too with Rangers’ Keith Jagoe, Barry O’Driscoll (H), Robert O’Regan and Gearoid White underlining their credentials as some of the Premier Division’s top players.

Skibbereen’s James Reen was a rock at the back while JP Reen, Cian Coughlan and John Hodnett underlined the capabilities in an engaging final.

Hopefully, more football fans will continue to take advantage of the fact they have such a talented league on their doorsteps and make an effort to support their local clubs.

Remembering Richie Conroy

The following is a feature I submitted for my weekly Evening Echo weekend  column on the decision to create a new Richie Conroy Perpetual Trophy for Post Primary schools based in West Cork. The trophy is in honour of one othe league’s most dedicated inviduals who passed away all too soon. – Ger McCarthy.

EveningEcho

 

Cork City manager John Caulfield has helped launch a new West Cork post primary schools soccer competition in honour of the late Richie Conroy.

Members of the West Cork Branch of the ISRS, Irish Soccer Referees of Ireland, West Cork League, West Cork Schoolboys League, Gateway Radio and West Cork secondary schools all came together to launch the Richard Conroy Memorial Perpetual Cup in the Arch Bar, Dunmanway last week.
Over the past few months, many of Richie’s friends and fellow referees had been looking at ways to commemorate Conroy’s many years of involvement in his beloved sport.

“Speaking with Richie’s family it was evident that they  along with all our referees were anxious to honour him as well as helping promote the game in West Cork,” said Tadg Sheehan, Secretary of the West Cork Branch of the ISRS.

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“Having spoken to Pat Curran of Pobal Bheantrai we sounded out other schools and got a positive response. This cup will be an U17 post primary competition confined to West Cork schools only. The trophy has kindly been donated by the Conroy family and the competition is supported by the West Cork Branch of the ISRS, the West Cork League and the West Cork Schoolboys League.”

Five schools have entered the inaugural competition; Skibbereen, Pobal Bheantrai (Bantry), Schull, Dunmanway and Beara. It is hoped to entice other schools from within the region and possibly further afield such as Bandon, Clonakilty and Macroom in the coming years.

The draw for the first Richard Conroy Memorial Perpetual Cup has pitted Pobal Bheantrai against Dunmanway in the quarter finals with the winners advancing to a last four meeting against Schull. Skibbereen and Beara contest the second semi final ahead of the 2017 decider provisionally fixed for April 7th.

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Cork City manager John Caulfield was happy to lend his support to the new competition, citing the importance of continually needing to promote the sport in an increasingly crowded sporting calendar. Richie Conroy was a person Caulfield knew well and respected throughout his early playing days and right through to becoming a League of Ireland manager.

“I was delighted to be invited to attend the launch of the Richard Conroy Memorial Perpetual Cup and helping promote soccer in West Cork,” Caulfield stated.

“It is difficult to keep the sport going in our region so I’m thankful of the huge amount of work being put in behind the scenes by a lot of dedicated people.

“Obviously, Richie Conroy was someone I knew a long, long time. During his lifetime he was a real, proud, passionate West Cork soccer man. I, like everyone else, was shocked and saddened to hear of Richie’s passing but there is no doubt he would be delighted and probably laughing to see so many people coming together to create a tournament in his honour.

“Everyone in West Cork has fond memories of Richie Conroy, a great man, a great soccer man and that is what I will always remember him as.”

Caulfield believes creating a post primary competition is a positive and necessary step in keeping soccer at the forefront of available sports, especially to U17’s.

“The fact the Richard Conroy Memorial Perpetual Cup is going to be a post primary schools competition is very important as there is a lot of work going on in trying to promote the game at that level,” admitted the Cork City manager.

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“People are well aware that summer soccer could be on the way via the West Cork Schoolboys League. Six or seven years ago it was something I wouldn’t necessarily have been in favour of. Now, I actually believe it is the right way forward because it means better pitches, longer evenings in which to get games completed and youngsters will be playing ball every week as opposed to waiting weeks after games are put off.

“I can see around the various schools in West Cork that their playing facilities are very good. Introducing this new cup, in honour of Richie Conroy, will help encourage U17’s to play and promote the game in schools which as I said earlier, is hugely important.

“The importance of playing in a post primary schools competition like this Richie Conroy Cup is vital to keep students playing at a competitive level (in school) and hopefully finding another player like Connor Ellis who came through Pobal Bheantrai and has since broken into our first team.”

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

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CROOKSTOWN WIN THE CUP
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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

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).