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.

 

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Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai claim Conroy Cup

This article appeared in a recent edition of the Evening Echo newspaper reviewing the inaugural West Cork Post Primary Schools Conroy Cup competition. Enjoy.


By Ger McCarthy

EveningEcho

Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai claimed the inaugural West Cork Post Primary Schools Conroy Cup, a competition the organisers hope will grow in popularity in the coming years.

Cork City manager John Caulfield, 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 school organisations came together to launch the Richard Conroy Memorial Perpetual Cup in Dunmanway recently.

 

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The schools competition and trophy have been organised in an effort to commemorate Richard Conroy’s many years of dedicated work both on and off the pitch as a referee and West Cork League committee member.

Three schools; Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai, Skibbereen Community College and MICC Dunmanway took part in the first running of the tournament over the past number of weeks but such is the huge interest sparked in the inaugural competition that plans are already underway to expand the entry for next year’s Richard Conroy Cup as well as adding additional age groups.

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Winning Colaiste Pobail Bantry and former Cork City youths coach Pat Curran along with fellow coach Donal McGrath are delighted to finally see a Post Primary Schools soccer competition established in West Cork.

“Schools soccer is certainly getting very strong in West Cork and will be of huge benefit to the sport come 2018 when soccer moves to summer time,” noted Pat Curran.

“There will also be a schools season in the winter and we look forward to seeing it rolled out to four different age groups next year. I firmly believe that schools soccer is a great platform for the players that take part in it.

“I rang Paul Bowden, my old colleague from Cork City FC, a few years back to tell him about a young man and former student called Connor Ellis who he should consider signing for Cork City Under 19’s and look how that has turned out.

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“Also Conor McCarthy, who plays for Blarney, won the FAI schools player of the year on Sunday is also a Cork City player. Young players representing their various schools now know that it is possible to become a professional soccer player within their own county once they are willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

“In the last few years West Cork has been well represented at national schools level when you consider Dunmanway went to an All-Ireland final and Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai got to last year’s senior Munster decider.”

HIGHLIGHT
CPB Bantry hosted MICC Dunmanway in the Conroy Cup semi-finals where the only highlight of a disappointing first half was the hosts’ superb opening goal. Dunmanway failed to adequately clear a corner and James Hickey took full advantage, walloping in a first-time volley from 25 yards to make it 1-0.

The visitors fought back impressively and equalised courtesy of a Donnacha Collins effort early in the second period. CPB responded well and Luke Scully restored the Bantry schools’ advantage ahead of a frantic finale in which goal-clearances and the crossbar came to the home side’s rescue before the final whistle eventually shrilled. That 2-1 victory secured CPB Bantry’s place in the final against Skibbereen Community College.DSC_1865
A huge crowd was in attendance for the first ever Conroy Cup final in which Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai broke the deadlock before three minutes had elapsed. Ryan O’Sullivan connected with a Kuba Ratajczak cross to hand Bantry an early 1-0 lead. Skibbereen bossed the remainder of the opening half and it took a marvellous James Crowley save to deny Conor Hourihane a certain equaliser on the stroke of half time.

Kuba Ratajczak and Thomas Flynn’s midfield dominance helped tip the balance in CPB’s favour as the second half progressed culminating in man of the match Sergei Manez Alvarez collecting a Flynn through ball and making it 2-0.

Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai made sure of their victory when Alvarez netted his second although there was still time for Alex Minihane to score a consolation for Skibbereen just before the end.

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The Bantry School ran out 3-1 winners and were presented with the Conroy perpetual cup by Richard’s son, Richard junior, after the final whistle. Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai will be back to defend the trophy next season when it is hoped an increased number of West Cork schools will take part.

 

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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SUPPORT
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
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.

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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