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O’Dwyer: Dohenys must make sure we stay in Division 2

March 11th, 2024 1:00 PM

By Sean Holland

Dohenys manager Declan O'Dwyer.

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LOSING a county final is one of the toughest defeats a club can have but Dohenys are ready to attack the 2024 season with a vengeance. 

The Dunmanway club has raced out of the blocks in the county league, winning their opening two Division 2 games against O’Donovan Rossa and Kiskeam to get points on the board early. That’s important, Dohenys manager Declan O’Dwyer said, as the team won promotion from Division 3 last season so they want to make sure they stay in Division 2 now.

‘It's a very different league this year. Last year our aim was to get out of Division 3. It was our main goal, and we did it by winning it. Division 2 is a different challenge. Every game is going to be a quality game so that's a massive benefit to us,’ O’Dwyer told The Southern Star. 

‘It's just to try and find a few more lads, consolidate our position, and stay there. We must make sure we stay in Division 2, and then start to look at a few lads. You have to keep developing the squad and see who else we can bring into play,’ explained the Dohenys boss.

Last year Dohenys made the county senior A football final, eventually losing out to Newcestown in mid-November, but can that late finish be a springboard for their campaign in Division 2?

‘Definitely, it can be,’ O’Dwyer agreed. 

‘I actually thought it showed as well in our play. We started a week earlier than everyone. We played O'Donovan Rossa two Sundays ago and last weekend against Kiskeam and, I'll be honest with you, I just thought we were just a small bit ahead of those teams because of the late finish last year. We had that extra bit of bounce. 

‘I know we lost the county final, but the lads could have just put their heads down and sulked or just get back into it and that’s what they did. It’s been a good start,’ he added. 

Dohenys' Sean Daly is held back by Newcestown's Jack Meade during the 2023 Bon Secours SAFC final. Daly is missing for the league campaign but is expected back for the championship.

 

With many West Cork clubs having to deal with players travelling abroad, Dohenys will be without Sean Daly for the league, while they also have a couple of players in with Cork squads. 

‘Our only starting player from last year not around is Sean, he’s gone travelling, but his plan is to come back again for the championship. Other than that, as it stands, we don't. A few of the older lads took a few extra weeks off but they came back, so it is pretty much the same squad again,’ O’Dwyer said.

‘At the moment, Aaron Mannix is with Cork U20s and Fionn Herlihy is with Cork seniors; we're used to that with Fionn over the last number of years. The rule change with minors not being able to play county league has been a bit of a disaster. I think a lot of clubs are thinking the same. There were definitely three lads ready to go from minor for us. They would have got league minutes the last few days but, look, it is what it is.’

Having had a promising start to the league, O’Dwyer is under no illusions of the standard in the league and the aim is to consolidate their position and target the knockout stages in championship. Dohenys will face Kanturk, Fermoy, and O’Donovan Rossa in their group this summer. 

‘I know we’ve got a couple of good results to start with but am I openly saying to them that we're aiming to win it? I'm not, because the teams are better, we’re in with some premier senior sides but that’s the level we want to play,’ he said.

‘We’ve had a great start but, as I said, we have to try and consolidate our position in Division 2, and then let's see where we are come July when the championship kicks off. 

‘It's a fierce, tough championship group again, but I think everyone knows across the county it's the most even grade. We were in the county final, we lost it. I suppose the aim is to get back to those knockout stages again.’

Now that Newcestown have progressed up a level, Dohenys are the team to beat in the senior A grade. O’Dwyer’s players know that too and how they will use it to fuel them heading into the year ahead. 

‘I'd be saying that it’ll help us grow as well. It's good. It's something you have to live with. You become kind of the hunted rather than the hunter. We're not used to being in that position. It's how you kind of handle it now,’ he explained.

‘The players have spoken to each other about that, like Keith White, our new captain as well this year, said that before the Skibb game, that it's a new position for us and we just got to embrace that.’

Dohenys’ next Division 2 game is home to Ballingeary on St Patrick’s Day, 11.30am throw-in.

 

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