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Drinagh Rangers eye Women’s Cup after clinching league title

March 30th, 2024 6:00 PM

By Sean Holland

The title-winning Drinagh Rangers team. Back from left, Kathlyn McCarthy, Lorraine O'Neill, Shannon O'Mahony, Aisling Connolly and Natalie Pursehouse. Front from left, Roisin O'Driscoll, Rachel O'Donovan, Katie O'Driscoll (captain). Laura O'Regan, Maire O'Driscoll and Donna Wilson.

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‘WE normally do it the hard way in Drinagh,’ said Mike Doolan, manager of Drinagh Rangers women’s team.

Well, Doolan and Drinagh can relax now, knowing that they’ve clinched the Albany Fusion Homes WCL Women’s 7s Premier title with one league game to play.

‘It was fantastic to get it over the line with a game to go,’ Doolan said. ‘We normally do it the hard way in Drinagh. Even in our women's league, it nearly always goes down to the last game before it's decided so it was refreshing to win it with a game to spare, so the girls can go in and play the last game with no pressure.’

With so many pitches in West Cork occupied on Sunday mornings by the men’s sides, Doolan hailed the advantage of having the availability of the astro pitches in Dunmanway and Bantry to play on, giving the women’s teams the chance to play every week without hindrance.

‘We're lucky to have them. We can say that it's only seven-a-side and this and that, but we're lucky, and we're grateful to have those pitches because there'll be a lot of Sundays the girls would have no games,’ he explained.

‘The players get up every Monday morning and can look forward to a game every Sunday, hail, rain, or shine. They know they will have a game and it's something to look forward to all week. We train every Wednesday night in the Dunmanway astro as well,’ the Drinagh manager explained.

With the success of the recent West Cork League Women’s Premier and Championship divisions, Doolan was asked how important it is to grow women's football, especially in West Cork.

‘Oh, it's massive. It really is massive,’ he said.

‘We started up about three years ago, and started off training with the underage girls. We were training for a couple of years and there was nothing happening. Then all of a sudden, it just took off. Look at the likes of Emma Hurley, she's above playing with Cork City now . That's just a testament to the talent there is in West Cork and there's talent in Drinagh. There are a lot of girls coming through our club that hopefully will be spotted. They should always be involved in sports because it's a great social thing for them and it's great for their development. To be going out and playing sports is massive.’

In what was an extremely competitive Premier Division, Doolan has high regard for the opponents he faced this year and has had a keen eye on the Championship, too.

‘In the women’s league, everyone can take points off any team on any given day,’ the Drinagh manager explained.

‘You go out knowing that here in Drinagh, there's always the target on your back. Kenmare are always good. Dunmanway Town are always good too. Even Mizen have punched above their weight this year; they've been excellent, the surprise package. Lyre won the Championship now this year, they're going to be up next year.

‘It's going to be a real struggle to win it next year and you could not pick a winner because every team is getting better and better. Everybody’s sussing everyone out now and finding out there’s a lot of good teams.’

Drinagh Rangers aren’t finished for the season yet. They will meet rivals Dunmanway Town in the Women’s Cup semi-final first leg this weekend.

‘It's just something to look forward to for the girls. What the West Cork League did this year, which is brilliant, was put the cup games onto grass because it gave the girls the opportunity to go 11 v 11 to test themselves for 90 minutes instead of an hour every Sunday. That’s a big difference,’ Doolan explained.

‘We played Kenmare in Drinagh a couple of weeks ago and we beat them. We went down to Kenmare last weekend and we played them again and we won 4-2 on aggregate. So it was great for the girls and great for the club, again. When there's so many girls involved, it's just great. They're winning and it keeps them interested week after week.’

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