GOLEEN and football go hand in glove, but Goleen and success have been rare bed companions down the years.
In fact, in one single year, 2019, they played in more finals than they had in total in the previous 60. Footballs have always been kicked on the Mizen Peninsula but isolation, travelling distances and lack of numbers meant they were unable to form a club until the 1950s.
1959 saw them collecting their first South West title, junior B football, in which grade they have participated for most of their existence. They soldiered on for another 50 with no silverware to show for their troubles until the junior B title was won for the second time in 2011. Since then, it has been like riches untold for the men in black and amber.
In 2016 they played in the newly-inaugurated county junior C championship for small clubs and brought home their first-ever county title, beating Abbey Rovers by 1-13 to 3-5 in the final on a never-to-be-forgotten day in Brinny, with the legendary Johnny Cullinane as the hero. That remains their only county title to date.
2019 was almost a glorious year, an unprecedented three finals in one year. The South West final was won for the third time but, unfortunately, the big two – the county confined final against Grange and the open county final against St. Michael’s – were both lost. Undaunted, they came back in 2021 to face fellow West Cork side Randal Óg in the confined county final but, again, they had to sup the bitter cup of defeat. Can they make it fourth time lucky in the junior B grade this Sunday?
We should point out here that Goleen can play in three different championships in the same season. The season starts with the county confined championship which is limited to junior B clubs only, then the South West junior B championship begins and the winner of that plays in the county open junior B championship, which is open to the second or third teams of clubs in higher grades.
They rear them tough on the Mizen and, after a year’s rest following the 2021 defeat, they are on the march again this season – and they now play Douglas in the Bon Secours Junior B FC final this Sunday, 3rd, in Páirc Uí Rinn (4pm).
For Goleen captain Padraig Reidy, a teacher in St Brogan’s and one of the stars of his club side at wing back, this is another chance to get their hands on silverware that has evaded them. Reidy was first drafted on to the Goleen junior panel as a raw 17-year-old in 2015 and collected a county junior C medal the following year. Unfortunately, he has lost three county B finals since and is most anxious to acquire that medal as a companion to the C momento.
‘We’ve had a long season to date as we were in the county confined junior B championship early in the season and that was run on a group system,’ explained Reidy.
‘We had three games in that, including one against our neighbours Muintir Bhéire, which we were delighted to win. Even though we lost a tough game to Ballyphehane, we beat Deel Rovers to qualify for the quarter-final. We had a big win over Araglen in that game and then met Plunkett’s in the county semi-final. We’ve had three big clashes with them this season. We lost that semi-final and were very disappointed as we kicked about ten wides and should have won. Plunkett’s went on to win the county double, fair play to them.’
As Reidy pointed out, their clashes with St Oliver Plunkett’s were the highlights of their season to date and they actually met twice in the South West championship.
‘After the county loss to Plunkett’s we decided that we needed a bit of a shake-up to take us a step further and we brought in Donal McGrath as chief trainer and Shane O’Neill of Bantry to take charge,’ Reidy said.
‘By chance, we were drawn against Plunkett’s in our group and met them in our first game in the South West championship. They had just completed the county double and were probably still celebrating and we hammered them in that game. We beat Ilen then to qualify directly for the semi-final where we got a really tough game against a young Skibbereen side.
‘Plunkett’s had recovered from their celebrations by then and we met them in the final, a real cracker of a game. We pulled that out of the fire, two goals in the closing five minutes to win by two points. We really celebrated that win, only our fourth South West junior B title.’
There wasn’t much time for celebration as Goleen were back in a county quarter-final the following week against Dungourney.
‘That was another tough battle and we were pushed to win by about four points. Our opponents in the semi-final were Garnish and we struggled in the first half that day, lucky to be in front at half time. We got going in the second half to win well and now we’re into our fourth county B final,’ explained Reidy. The hope is it will be fourth time lucky for the mighty Mizen men.