Confederations Cup winners and losers

The following article was published in the Irish Examiner following Germany’s 1-0 win over Chile in the 2017 Confederations Cup decider in Russia. Published Mon July 3rd 2017. – Enjoy, Ger McCarthy.




Germany’s conveyor belt of talent

Two statistics dominated social media following Germany’s Confederations Cup final victory over Chile last night. First, the average age of Joachim Low’s starting team was 24 years and 244 days. Second and in close comparison, the German’s recent U21 European Championship final winning side’s average was 22 years and 275 days, underlining the view that a potentially dominant young squad is evolving following on from the 2014 World Cup winners’ triumph in Brazil.


Chilean fire

Although they came up short in the decider, Juan Antonio Pizzi’s Chilean side lit up this summer’s pre-World Cup tournament with their intricate passing, rapier-like counter-attacking and sometimes fiery reactions to match officials. 2015 and 2016 Copa America successes were built around the combined talents of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas but an ageing Chile squad possesses enough bite to make an impact in Russia once again next year.



The conclusion to one of the most remarkable seasons in Cristiano Ronaldo’s distinguished career did not include a Confederations Cup medal. Instead, the Portuguese international had to be content with La Liga, Champions League, World Club Championship and European Championship successes plus the Ballon d’Or.Ronaldo still had time to help Portugal to a third-place finish in Russia before jetting off to the United States to greet the arrival of his new-born twins.




The Russian national team

Despite running a well organised tournament, a 2-0 victory over New Zealand is all Russia’s international team had to show during an otherwise uninspiring Confederations Cup. Add to that, an ongoing FIFA investigation into allegations that Russia’s entire squad were doping at the 2014 World Cup and next year’s showpiece global event cannot come quickly enough for the host nation.


VAR confusion

The decision to trial FIFA’s video assistant referee technology at the Confederations Cup led to many confusing moments. Giving a referee the option to consult a VAR official or look at footage of an incident on a screen on the side of the pitch makes perfect sense, in theory. Yet, the long delays and inability of supporters or TV viewers to understand what’s going on during the decision-making process has instead, painted VAR in a negative light.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.



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.


“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.


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.

“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.”

Retro GAA – Beara v UCC

The following is a Cork SFC match report from the 2015 championship between the Beara Divisional side and University College Cork. The tie took place in Dunmanway and went to extra-time before Beara recorded a famous victory over a UCC side that contained plenty of Kerry inter-county talent – Ger McCarthy.

BEARA     1-20 UCC    1-16 (after extra time)

Beara enjoyed one of their finest evenings in the Divisions/Colleges section of the Cork county senior football championship by registering a rousing victory over UCC on Friday evening.


A sun-kissed Dunmanway venue played host to an encounter that required extra time to decide the outcome after Beara came from behind in both halves to book their place in the last sixteen of the championship.

‘This is an absolutely massive result for us and a huge lift for Beara football,’ said an elated Beara manager Finbarr Harrington.

‘Look, we were struggling for numbers for a long time but this win over a very good UCC team will give us a great lift. Our U21’s are out on Sunday against Valley Rovers and we can look forward, as a board, to that but tonight is just a fantastic night for Beara football.

‘Our ambition tonight was to make the last sixteen. We’ve done it, we made it hard (for ourselves) but we are absolutely delighted. Being in the last sixteen is brilliant for Beara and we will look forward to next round.’

A strong UCC panel began with ten Kerry natives plus one Waterford representative and leading at the break, the college were still a point ahead, 1-12 to 1-11, with time ticking down.

Beara’s brave fight back appeared in vain when Conchúr Harrington missed a close range free a minute from the end but the Urhan player converted a much more difficult effort in the dying embers to send the tie to extra time.

The eventual winners somehow found an extra gear in the first additional period with Kevin Jer O’Sullivan, Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan (twice), Vincent Lehane efforts giving the West Cork division the edge only for Conor Gleeson and three Conor Cox points (two frees) to level the score 1-16 apiece at the second interval.

Once again Beara dug deep and rattled off four unanswered white flags courtesy of Conchúr Harrington, Andrew O’Sullivan, Liam Harrington and Ciarán McElhinney to move 1-20 to 1-16 in front.

The drama didn’t end there with UCC having loud appeals for a penalty waved away, Beara goalkeeper William O’Sullivan producing an excellent reflex save and Joe Harrington clearing another goal-bound effort off his line before the final whistle brought an end to an epic match.

Beara had heroes all over the pitch but none more so than the tireless Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan who contributed three points. Andrew O’Sullivan, Conchúr Harington, Dave Fenton, Kevin Jer O’Sullivan and Gary Murphy’s performances were also pivotal to Beara’s victory.

UCC led 0-4 to 0-2 early on before Dave Fenton punched a lofted Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan attempt into the net to push Beara in front. Conor Cox would finish the evening with nine points and the Kerryman’s accuracy helped UCC retake the lead ahead of a Kevin O’Sullivan goal to make it 1-7 to 1-5 after 28 minutes.

The College maintained a two-point lead into the second half where Beara’s inaccurate shooting threatened to undo all their diligent approach work. Another Conor Cox free and marvellous John Murphy effort looked to have won it for UCC until Conchúr Harrington’s two late frees forced extra time.

Beara were the better side in additional time and ran out deserving winners on a never to be forgotten evening for the Divisional side.


Beara: Conchur Harrington 0-7 (5 f), Dave Fenton 1-0, Kevin Jer O’Sullivan (1 f), Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan 0-3 each, Andrew O’Sullivan (1 45’), Connor Lowney 0-2 each, Vincent Lehane, Liam Harrington and Ciarán McElhinney 0-1 each.

UCC: Conor Cox 0-9 (5 f), Kevin O’Sullivan 1-0, Adrian Spillane 0-3, Sean O’Donoghue, Michael Walsh, John Murphy and Conor Gleeson 0-1 each.

Beara: William O’Sullivan (Adrigole); David Torres (Castletownbere), Liam Harrington (Adrigole), Lorcan Harrington (Castletownbere); Trevor Collins (Castletownbere), Joe Harrington (Garnish), Eanna Murphy (Garnish); Andrew O’Sullivan (Castletownbere), Shane McCarthy (Castletownbere); Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan (Garnish), Dave Fenton (Castletownbere), Conchúr Harrington (Urhan); Paul O’Neill (Garnish), Connor Lowney (Urhan), Gary Murphy (Castletownbere),

Subs: Kevin Jer O’Sullivan (Adrigole) for David Torres (ht), Vincent Lehane (Urhan) for Paul O’Neill (48), Barry Goggin (Adrigole) for Shane McCarthy (56), Martin McCarthy (Urhan) for Connor Lowney (60), Ciarán McElhinney (Glengariff) for Vincent Lehane (73).

UCC: D O’Shea (Ballydonoghue); J Maguire (Listowel Emmetts), D Culhane (Ballylongford), K Histon (Cobh); C Hyde (Naomh Abán), M Walsh (Knocknagoshel), T Clancy (Fermoy); G O’Sullivan (Listry), B O’Sullivan (Dingle); K O’Sullivan (Kenmare Shamrocks), A Spillane (Templenoe), S Keane (Killarney Legion); C Gleeson (The Nire), C Cox (Listowel Emmetts), S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra).

Subs: C Murphy (Rathmore) for J Maguire (41), K Shanahan (Ardfert) for S O’Donoghue (47), J Murphy (Macroom) for S Keane (47), S Kelleher (Aghinagh) for J Murphy (61, bc), S Keane for K O’Sullivan (et), M O’Connor (Sneem/Derrynane) for A Spillane (68, inj), J Maguire for T Clancy (70, bc), S O’Donoghue for M O’Connor (76).

Referee: Michael Collins (Clonakilty)

Sean ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan of Beara
The Garnish player was pivotal to Beara’s victory, scoring three points, intelligently linking defence with attack and producing a tireless performance on a memorable evening for his division.

Castletown into semi-finals

This is a recent Southern Star match report outlining how Division 2 side Castletown Celtic overcame loscal rivals and 2016 Premier League champions Riverside Athletic to reach the last four of the West Cork League Beamish Cup – Ger McCarthy.



Ger McCarthy reports

Castletown Celtic knocked local rivals Riverside Athletic out of the West Cork League Beamish Cup following an absorbing quarter-final in Castletownkenneigh.

Celtic joined fellow Division 2 side Clonakilty Town plus the Premier League’s Drinagh Rangers and Bantry Bay Rovers in the last four of the cup having outlasted Riverside at the conclusion of an engaging 90 minutes.

A relieved Castletown Celtic manager Gary Shannon understood the importance of his side’s victory.

‘I’ve been going to watch Castletown Celtic in the Beamish Cup since I was a young fella but 2000 was the last time we won it,’ Shannon said.

‘Every year you’d be hoping to go on a run and our form has been excellent since Christmas. We have yet to lose a game in 2017. It was a gritty performance today in heavy conditions, an honest team effort and we needed it against a very good Riverside team. There are only three of this current Castletown team over 21 so the future looks good and we just have to keep it going

‘In terms of semi-final opponents, well, we owe Clonakilty Town one as they have gotten the better of us over the last few years!’

An eagerly anticipated local derby kicked off with persistent drizzle making life difficult. A terrific opening quarter ensued, beginning with Riverside grabbing the lead from a set-piece delivery that saw Finghín O’Driscoll divert the ball over the line from close-range.

Creditably, Castletown redoubled their efforts and were awarded a penalty when Jack O’Callaghan was upended in the penalty box. Billy O’Brien stepped forward and sent Brian Corcoran the wrong way after 11 minutes.

Celtic should have edged in front two minutes after equalising only for Corcoran to produce an excellent point-blank stop. The Riverside goalkeeper was powerless to stop Fergal Kelleher from hammering home an unstoppable effort on the quarter hour however as a rampant Castletown deservedly moved 2-1 ahead.

The reigning Premier League champions’ best opportunity of an equaliser fell to Stephen Keohane but Gavin O’Leary was equal to the effort, diving full-length to tip away the centre-back’s goal-bound attempt.

A terrific cup tie’s pace remained unrelenting up until half time, a timeframe in which Riverside showed their quality by conjuring up a superb second goal. Rory Baggott’s inch-perfect pass was smashed into the net by Barry O’Mahony to send the sides in level at the break.

Finghín O’Driscoll angled a volley inches past an upright to kick-start the second half with Niall Kelleher and Peter Daly also stretching the Castletown Celtic defence. The Castletownkenneigh playing surface began to cut up badly yet both sides continued to press forward with Castletown having penalty appeals waved away after 66 minutes.

Chances were spurned at either end before Castletown capitalised on Riverside’s inability to clear a routine cross and substitute Kevin O’Donovan pounced to make it 3-2 with 10 minutes to go.

Brian Corcoran produced two excellent saves to keep Athletic in the tie but it was Castletown rather than Riverside who looked the more likely to add to their total as the clock ticked down. Celtic survived a few late scares and wasted a few opportunities of their own before progressing to the cup semi-finals following a famous 3-2 victory.

Castletown Celtic: Gavin O’Leary, Padraigh O’Driscoll, Fergal Kelleher, John Shannon, Sean Buttimer, Stephen Moore, Ted Lordan, Billy O’Brien, Jack O’Callaghan, Niall O’Halloran and Sean Crowley.

Substitutes: James Bermingham, Kevin O’Donovan, Gearoid O’Donovan, Kevin O’Neill and John Horgan.

Riverside Athletic: Brian Corcoran, Kevin O’Donovan, Stephen Keohane, Tiernan O’Driscoll, Rory Baggott, Barry O’Mahony, Rory O’Connor, Michael O’Driscoll, Niall Kelleher, Peter Daly and Finghín O’Driscoll.

Substitutes: Michael Murphy, Shane McCarthy and Gearoid Harrington.

Referee: Richard Bond


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.




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.

‘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.’

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.

‘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.