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O’Donovan Rossa hurlers braced for toughest test against Gabriel Rangers in derby

June 15th, 2024 7:30 AM

By Sean Holland

O’Donovan Rossa hurlers braced for toughest test against Gabriel Rangers in derby Image
O'Donovan Rossa's Kevin Cotter attempts to get past Buttevant fullback Kevin Lenehan during the Co-op Superstores Confined JBHC at Bandon. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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COME noon on Sunday, all eyes will be on Church Cross where O’Donovan Rossa and Gabriel Rangers, two sides with a rich footballing history, will go to battle in the Co-op Superstores Confined Junior B hurling championship quarter-final.

While Gabriel Rangers had a nervous wait in seeing who would emerge from their group, eventually going through on goals scored, O’Donovan Rossa progressed with a game to spare. The Skibbereen men had two comfortable wins over Doneraile (1-16 to 0-11) and Rathpeacon (4-28 to 0-9), but were well beaten by Buttevant (2-19 to 0-10) in the final group game.

O'Donovan Rossa manager Alan Keane.

‘We set out in the group stages to win the first two games and we did that fairly easily,’ Rossas manager Alan Keane said.

‘The first game against Doneraile, we were a bit rusty, but we pulled away in the end. We were happy with that performance. Then the second game against Rathpeacon, unfortunately was a bit of a no-show. We didn't really learn much about the team because we gave them a bit of a pasting, which you don't like to see in any championship game.

‘I think we probably learned more in the third game than we did in the second game. It was a dead duck of a match, because both ourselves and Buttevant were through to the quarter-finals, and there was no semi-final spot to play for. Look, it was a good learning curve for us and a few of the lads as well. Some people always say it's great to win the three group games and go through to the quarters or a semi, but actually, I believe that a loss will always bring fellas back down to earth in training.

‘The response in training the Wednesday night after was phenomenal. The fellas were working harder. They knew that standard they had to get to’, explained Keane.

The O’Donovan Rossa hurlers have a strong squad, ranging of all ages. Keane highlighted the diverse mix of players in his team contributes to the good conditioning of the side.

‘We have a great bunch of lads in fairness. There's a massive mix of age there as well. You've Alan Foley who is still doing it in goal. You've Flor Crowley, who's playing outstanding stuff. There is a good mix of young fellas coming through as well. You can see the young lads are bringing that conditioning in. That helps then with the 30-year-old that might be there saying “you know what, I need to knuckle down a bit more, these lads are flying fit that are coming in”. It's the young fellas that are actually keeping the older fellas going,’ Keane added.

The O’Donovan Rossa boss is looking forward to the divisional derby against Gabriels this Sunday, noting that there’s never much to separate these two sides.

‘Gabriels is going to be the biggest game of the year. We're the two most western clubs that are still playing hurling. There's only one parish between us and there's only ever a puck of a ball between us whenever we play. It'll be a cracker of a game,’ Keane said.

‘We're not looking beyond that. It's basically, beat Gabriels and take every game as it comes. If we can get a lot of young fellas out watching the game and if we get over the line, then probably more lads will come to the aid of Skibbereen hurling again in the future.’

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