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.

IMG_2228
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.

IMG_2235

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.

 

IMG_2230
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.

IMG_2243

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.

 

IMG_2237

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.

IMG_2254

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.

Bucks add fizz to Dohenys’ dream

By Ger McCarthy

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

EveningEcho

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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