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.

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.