ONCE again, with the Carbery junior football championships having drawn to a close, we are tasked with naming the All-Star 15.
There won’t be any gala ball or trophies for this and just as well, because naming the top team from the many players who took part in the championship is nigh-impossible. As usual, most of the nominees come from the two clubs who contested the final and even more so this season as that decider required a replay and the two teams involved were definitely the two best in Carbery in 2018.
During the season, we watched a lot of junior football championship games and, while the standard was fairly good and the entertainment level high, it took a while for the championship to liven up and it was only from the quarter final stages onwards that the excitement and interest starting mounting.
The best game we saw during the season was the replayed final between winners Kilmacabea and Tadhg MacCárthaigh –the best wine was kept to the last, as it should be – although the Kilmacabea v Castlehaven local derby came close for atmosphere alone.
The best comeback of the season rested between the drawn final game, when Kilmac came back from the dead with four late points, and the St James’ v O’Donovan Rossa drawn game, when the Ardfield men snatched some late scores.
Dark horses for 2018 were the men of St James’, who won their way to the semi-final before losing to champions Kilmacabea. They provided loads of thrills along the way.
Appearance of the season came when Brian Hurley, absent for well over a year with a horrific hamstring injury, made his appearance for Castlehaven juniors when they lost to O’Donovan Rossa in the first round. He kicked two points from frees.
The return of the year came when Daniel O’Donovan lined out for his native Kilmacabea after a few seasons with Bishopstown.
He was the makings of the Kilmacs and his scores were crucial to their success in retaining the title.
Unsung hero of the year for me was Goleen’s Darren O’Donovan, a player who wears his heart on his sleeve and gives 110 percent every time he pulls on the Goleen jersey.
Credit where credit is due: Muintir Bháire battle on every year with little success and plenty hardships so their single-point victory over Ilen Rovers in the blazing heat of the last day of June in round 2 was indeed welcomed with great delight. Will we ever forget the heat of those summer days?
The importee of the year must be the Cavan man, Tom Brady, who made his debut for Dohenys in the second half against St Oliver Plunkett’s and proceeded to kick five points to knock out the Ahiohill men. Of the new young players, the two who caught our eye most were Killian Murray of Caheragh and Ian Jennings of Kilmacabea, two to watch for in the future.
Top defender of 2018 goes to Niall Hayes of Kilmacabea, following his welcome return from injury; top midfielder goes to Daniel O’Donovan, also of Kilmac; and top forward goes to Colm O’Driscoll (Caheragh) for his amazing work rate and scoring prowess.
Finally, our player of the year goes to Daniel O’Donovan, the man who came back and orchestrated Kilmac’s successful defence of their title. The team of the year is as follows:
1. Matthew O’Neill (Kilmacabea): The Kilmacs never have to worry about the man behind their defence, rock-steady and dependable. Brendan Herlihy a close second.
2. Donncha McCarthy (Kilmacabea): Officially a corner back but popping up all over the field and even scoring. Non-stop energy.
3. Daniel Kingston (Tadhg MacCárthaigh) Big, strong and committed, a great find for Caheragh this season.
4. Darren Whooley (Kilmacabea): Unsung hero but versatile, sticky and a footballer. Outstanding in replayed final.
5.Daniel O’Driscoll (Goleen): A fine year for Goleen and it was O’Driscoll who shaped their side from the half back line with some outstanding displays.
6. Niall Hayes (Kilmacabea): Missed last season through injury but back in style in 2018 as inspirational captain. Plays anywhere in defence.
7. Micheál O’Donovan (Tadhg MacCárthaigh): Outstanding attacking wing back, whose scores were vital to Caheragh all season.
8. Daniel O’Donovan (Kilmacabea): Back to guide the Kilmacs to the title, his scores were breath-taking at times, especially that late point in the final.
9. Brian O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCárthaigh): Played his heart out in every game and was a real leader on the pitch in a variety of positions.
10. Brian Hurley (Castlehaven): A welcome return to playing after a long injury lay-off. He lit up the grade with his class.
11. Colm O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCárthaigh):
Incredible spirit, never beaten, non-stop action and top scorer. The heart of the Caheragh team.
12. Kevin O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCárthaigh): Played most of his football at midfield but played so consistently well all season that he had to be included on the team.
13. Richie O’Sullivan (Kilmacabea): A late-budding player this season but worth the wait as he lit up the final replay with a superb display of attacking football.
14. Damien Gore (Kilmacabea): The class act on the Kilmac team. Unstoppable in full flight and always excites the crowd with his score-getting.
15. Frank Hayes (St James): His scores, especially when all seemed lost, took his team to the semi-final. Small, fast and exciting.
Subs: Brendan Herlihy (Tadhg MacCárthaigh), Sam O’Driscoll (Kilmacabea), Darren O’Donovan (Goleen), Martin Collins (Kilmacabea), Gareth Crowley (Dohenys), Mark O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCárthaigh).