7 WCL things to look forward to

7 West Cork League things to look forward to this weekend
By Ger McCarthy

 

  1. Football is back

A new West Cork League season begins this weekend with all three divisions packed full of intriguing matchups, none more so than in the PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division where defending champions Dunmanway Town face an early test of their credentials at home to Lyre Rovers.

Winning one title is difficult enough but defending that championship is even harder and Town will need to hit the ground running considering the wealth of talent amongst the top tier this season. Much will depend on Mark Buckley’s scoring ability but Dunmanway start as favourites.

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  1. Drinagh begin their title challenge

One of the most decorated clubs in the WCL welcome Spartak Mossgrove to Canon Crowley Park on Sunday, eager to start their campaign in the best possible fashion.

Rangers have already claimed the Michael Cronin Cup following a penalty shootout victory over arch rivals Dunmanway but a sustained Premier Division title challenge requires a positive start. A big question heading into the 2017-18 season is can Drinagh turn Beamish and Parkway Cup successes into another league triumph?

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  1. New boys first taste of top tier action

Spartak Mossgrove and Lyre Rovers make their 2017 Premier Division debuts away from home this weekend having both come up through Divisions 1 and 2 over the past couple of years.

Spartak have shown, in cup competitions at least, that they can challenge the established Premier clubs while Lyre possesses an emerging squad that will not be overawed by competing in the top tier.

It will be fascinating to see how both clubs fare over the next nine months and any points picked up away from home would be a welcome morale-boost on Sunday.

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  1. Leeside’s greatest challenge

One of the West Cork League’s longest serving clubs face into another Premier Division campaign as one of the favourites to go down. Leeside have specialised in avoiding the drop over the past number of years but news that their Inchigeela home ground is no longer available to them comes as a serious blow on the eve of the new season. Not playing this weekend, Leeside need all the help they can get before a ball is kicked.

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  1. Can ‘the dependables’ step up to the plate?

Togher Celtic and Riverside Athletics’ opening-day meeting brings together two of the Premier Division’s most consistent and dependable clubs, the former having won last season’s Premier Cup and the latter only two seasons removed from winning the championship without losing a game.

Both sides will be without players that lined out in the previous campaign and it is a big ask for Togher and Riverside to step up and challenge the Dunmanway and Drinagh’s of the top tier. Yet, neither Celtic nor Athletic should fear anyone on their home grounds and are capable of pushing the top two before seasons end.

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  1. Division 1 title-race could be the best of the lot

Gaining promotion to the promised land of the PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier will be on the minds of the West Cork League’s middle tier Division 1 league clubs who start their respective campaigns this weekend.

Bantry Bay Rovers lost their top flight status following a play-off loss to Ballydehob at the tail-end of last season but a Beamish Cup final appearance at Turner’s Cross suggests the Kealkil club are capable of bouncing straight back.

Bunratty United were also relegated last term and Gabriel Rangers GAA successes has hit the Town Park club’s aspirations hard. Yet, United will still be in the mix for promotion along with a resurgent Clonakilty Town plus Skibbereen, Crookstown and Durrus sides eager for their chance to move up to the top division.

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Skibbereen
  1. Another Division 2 dogfight on the horizon

Division 2 of the WCL remains the toughest and most unpredictable league in the region. Sullane and Baltimore begin life in the bottom tier having been relegated last season and both will be anxious to go straight back up.

A victory over Courtmacsherry would represent the perfect start for the Coolea club  as would a win for the Crabs at home to Dunmanway B on Sunday. Castletown Celtic, Castlelack, Ardfield and Drinagh Rangers B are all capable of taking points off the Division 2 favourites in  another promotion race that looks like it will go right to the wire.

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Baltimore FC

 

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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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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.”

Retro- 2012 WCSL U14 Cup Final

The following 2012 SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys U14 Cup final match report was published in the Southern Star. Skibbereen and Clonakilty AFC produced an entertaining final in which the Baltimore Road club eventually triumphed. Enjoy. – Ger McCarthy.

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GER MCCARTHY REPORTS

Skibbereen proved too strong for Clonakilty AFC to capture the 2012 SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys U14 Cup in Canon Crowley Park .


The dream of a SuperValu WCSL U14 League and Cup double remains very much alive for Skibbereen following their weekend triumph over Clonakilty AFC. The Baltimore Road club has endured a difficult couple of weeks at junior level but last weekend’s success restored faith in the club’s future with the U14 squad capturing some much needed silverware and remain firmly in the driving seat for this year’s Premier League crown.

A talented Clonakilty AFC side battled bravely throughout but eventually succumbed to two late goals after Skibbereen had wasted a multitude of earlier chances.

Skibbereen began the Cup decider at a blistering pace on the pristine Drinagh playing surface on an afternoon dotted with heavy April showers. Ryan Doonan produced two terrific saves in as many minutes to deny Cian Coughlan before the Clonakilty AFC defence was forced to hack a Hugh O’Neill effort away from danger.

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The Ballyvackey club survived a torrid opening period before a Chris Collins free-kick caused momentary panic in the Skibbereen box. The Baltimore Road club continued to boss possession however with Ryan Foley, Hugh O’Neill and Gavin Johnston surging forward at the earliest opportunity. Play became scrappy for a time with Clonakilty AFC finally closing down the Skibb midfield and looking to release their pacy frontline of Matthew Jennings and Oisin O’Brion and Jason O’Donovan.

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The Baltimore Road club carved out the best opening of an engaging first half after 16 minutes when Gavin Johnston sent a rocket soaring towards the top corner only for Ryan Doonan to pull off a world class save.

Skibb continued to press and Doonan was called upon once again to deny Cian Coughlan with a brave stop before a succession of corners somehow failed to deliver a goal for a rampant Skibb side. Ryan Doonan continued to excel between the sticks for Clonakilty AFC and yet another brave save prevented Cian Coughlan from a certain opener in the 23rd minute.

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ChrisCollins responded with a free-kick for Clon that brought the best out of Sean Minihane at the other end but it was a rare shot on target for the Ballyvackey club who spent most of the first half on the back foot.

Despite their dominance Skibbereen squandered a plethora of chances during the opening 35 minutes and were it not for the brilliance of Clonakilty goalkeeper Doonan would have easily been two or three ahead at the break. Instead, the sides changed ends tied at 0-0 with Clonakilty’s heroic defensive efforts keeping the Ballyvackey side in contention.

TURNING POINT
The turning point of the U14 Cup final arrived 3 minutes into the second half. Skibbereen forced yet another corner and the resulting in-swinger took a wicked deflection off a Clonakilty player’s head before flying into the net.

Skibbereen made a fatal error of switching off having grabbed the lead and Clonakilty AFC were awarded a penalty when Matthew Jennings was fouled in the box a minute after conceding the opening goal. Olan O’Donovan stepped forward and calmly slotted the ball into the net to tie the score at 1-1.

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As the excitment grew the large crowd in attendance barely had time to draw breath when Dylan Hourihane saw his goalbound effort saved by Ryan Doonan. Gavin Johnston was on hand to hammer home the rebound from the narrowest of angles and restore Skibbereen’s lead much to the delight of the Baltimore Road club’s supporters.

Clonakilty looked crestfallen at the concession of that second goal and were powerless to prevent Ryan Foley from racing through to make it 3-1 with a powerful shot 12 minutes from the end.

Skibbereen were content to pepper the Clonakilty goal from long range for the remainder of the final with Clonakilty AFC commendably refusing to accept defeat and pressing high up the pitch in search of a late consolation effort.

Both sides emptied their substitute’s bench in the final minutes making for a scrappy ending before Skibbereen ran out merited 3-1 winners to lift the SuperValu WCSL U14 Cup trophy for the first time since 2009.

Ryan Doonan was the pick of Clonakilty AFC’s best performers but was ably assisted by Olan O’Donovan, Liam O’Connor, David Jennings and Oisin O’Brion. Best for Skibbereen included Hugh O’Neill, Cian Coughlan, Eoin Fitzgerald and Sean O’Reilly.

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SuperValu Man of the Match: Ryan Doonan of Clonakilty AFC.

Clonakilty AFC: Chris Collins, Noel Creedon, Ryan Doonan, Conor Frost, Joe Hughes, David Jennings, Mathew Jennings, Oisin O’Brion, Liam O’Connor, Jason O’Donovan, Olan O’ Donovan, Dylan O’Halloran, Michael O ‘Mahony, Padraig O’Rian, Shane Tanner, Peter Whelton and Michael O’Mahony. Coaches: Lorne Edmeade and Tony Blinston.

Skibbereen: Cian Coughlan, Eoin Fitzgerald, Ryan Foley, Dylan Hourihane, Gavin Johnston, Cal Keane, Dan Lynch, Paul Minihane, Sean Minihane, Killian Murray, Eoghan O’Connell, Peter O’Driscoll, Shane O’Driscoll, Hugh O’Neill, Sean O’Reilly and James O’Sullivan. Coaches: Gene Hourihane, Shane O’Neill and Patrick Murray.

Referee: John Corcoran – Assistant Referees: Les Wilcox and Richie Collins

Carbery clubs gear up for league campaign

Ger McCarthy looks ahead to this year’s Rochestown Park Hotel sponsored Division 1 senior football League in which five West Cork clubs will compete for top honours.

Published in the Evening Echo – January 2017

EveningEcho

West Cork clubs are preparing for their upcoming county football league campaigns in a revamped structure following a county board review.

In this year’s top division, five west Cork sides; Carbery Rangers, Castlehaven, Clonakilty, Ilen Rovers and O’Donovan Rossa will contest an eleven-club league hoping to dethrone 2016 Kelleher Shield winners Nemo Rangers.

Disappointingly, another Carbery representative, Newcestown, find themselves demoted to Division 2 along with Bishopstown, Douglas and Clyda.

Earlier this week, the Evening Echo’s Mark Woods outlined the Cork county board’s reasoning behind a decision to reduce the number of teams across each of the competing leagues and introduce a new fifth division. That subsequent revamp means Newcestown will not play in this season’s top tier despite finishing tenth in a fourteen-club division at the end of 2016.

Missing out on an opportunity to compete against some of the county’s top ranked senior teams is not the preparation Newcestown or their Cork SFC preliminary round opponents Douglas were hoping for. Yet, the likes of Bishopstown, Éire Óg, Macroom and Cill na Martra should still provide decent opposition for a Newcestown team that overcame Aghada and UCC before bowing out to Avondhu during their previous championship odyssey.

 

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Carbery Rangers

Defending county champions Carbery Rangers finished top of the Rochestown Park Hotel Football Division 1 league standings last year only to lose 2-12 to 0-9 to Nemo in the semi-finals. That defeat came a month after claiming their first Cork SFC title however and Rangers’ new management team of Maurice Moore and Shane Crowley will be eager to hit the ground running and maintain the west Cork club’s high level of consistency in the competition.

Intriguingly, a draft programme (all fixtures subject to change) of Division 1 fixtures displayed on the Cork GAA website has Carbery Rangers hosting Castlehaven in their opening league encounter. The two clubs didn’t face one another in competitive action last year and the prospect of a feisty west Cork derby between two rivals would attract a large crowd to Rosscarbery, albeit so early in the campaign.

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Castlehaven

At the time of writing, the Haven’ are yet to announce their new manager for the coming season but possess a squad capable of challenging for the Kelleher Shield. A record of ten wins and two losses from their 2016 league fixture-list preceded a one-point win over Valley Rovers in the semi-finals and two-point loss to Nemo in the decider. Having lost the previous two Division 1 finals, another top-four finish is well within Castlehaven’s reach.

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Clonakilty

Clonakilty missed out on a league semi-final berth by a single point and subsequent play-off last year but a fifth overall finish represented a much improved showing for Paul Holland’s side. Notable victories over Castlehaven, O’Donovan Rossa and Ilen Rovers plus a 0-12 to 0-12 draw with eventual league champions Nemo Rangers bodes well for the Brewery Town who are expected to continue integrating members of their U21 and minor panels.

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O’Donovan Rossa

2015 Kelleher Shield winners O’Donovan Rossa endured a difficult follow-up campaign, finishing mid-table in Shane Crowley’s final term as bainisteoir before joining Carbery Rangers. Now under the tutelage of Ned English, the Skibbereen club are aiming for a higher finish this time around and will no doubt look to inter-county players Ryan Price, Donal Óg Hodnett and Daniel Hazel as well as a talented U21 panel for inspiration.

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Ilen Rovers

Ed Sheehy takes charge of Ilen Rovers for the coming year and will be hopeful of building on a positive twelve months for the Rath/Baltimore side. Rovers U21’s claimed the Carbery ‘A’ title and reached the county decider whilst the senior panel also enjoyed a productive summer, rebounding from a heavy preliminary round loss to Avondhu to overcome Dohenys and Carrigaline in consecutive rounds.

Castlehaven ended Ilen’s interest in the Cork SFC at the fourth round stage but a positive showing plus the addition of a host of talented U21’s suggests Rovers will improve on last year’s league record of five wins and a draw.

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Nemo Rangers

Aside from the five west Cork representatives, Nemo Rangers will start as favourites to reclaim a Division 1 League trophy they won on December 1st. Ballincollig, under new management, and St. Finbarr’s will also fancy their chances whilst Ballingeary and Mallow should relish the opportunity to face senior championship opponents in a division completed by Valley Rovers inclusion.