BY GER McCARTHY
BALLYDEHOB bounced back from the heartache of losing the West Cork League Premier Division final to claim the 2019 Gareth O’Driscoll Premier Cup – but they will be under new management next season.
The fact Ballydehob overpowered Dunmanway Town – who beat them in the league decider on penalties – for the trophy was irrelevant. Winning a cup and scoring five times courtesy of Sacha Walden (2), Joe Hickey, Mark Cronin plus an own goal helped to end the season on a high note.
Mike Leonard was one member of a dedicated Ballydehob management team that guided their squad to the runners-up spot in the top division before winning the final piece of silverware on offer at the end of a cracking West Cork League season.
‘Winning the Gareth O’Driscoll Cup was extra special for us (Ballydehob) because Gareth’s family were there to present the trophy,’ Leonard said.
‘I think it is great to see a competition like the Premier Cup regaining its prestige and that’s down to all the hard work of the O’Driscoll family, the West Cork League committee and John Leahy (committee member).
‘For Ballydehob, it would have been an awful disappointment to finish what has been an unbelievable season without at least one trophy, especially after all the effort we put in.’
Ballydehob achieved that goal despite being underdogs for almost the entire season. Hardly surprising considering Dunmanway Town and Drinagh Rangers’ pedigree but the Rathravane side came within a whisker of West Cork League glory before bouncing back in their final game of the season.
Irrespective of what happens next, Ballydehob will be under new management at the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign.
‘We (Ballydehob) were convinced we were going to win the West Cork League (Premier Division) title,’ Leonard admitted.
‘It was a huge disappointment not to do that so getting another crack at Dunmanway in the Gareth O’Driscoll Premier Cup and defeating them was vital for the squad.
‘Going forward, the management team of Mike, Patrick and I are stepping down ahead of the coming season. We simply cannot commit to the job because at the top end, it is a massive, massive undertaking.
‘We (management) are all at different stages of our lives with work and family commitments. We always said it would be the three of us or none of us. It wouldn’t be fair to go into the job half-hearted but luckily, all the lads are back again next season plus a few more signings could be on the way.
‘I’d be very confident the lads will give whoever is the new manager the same commitment and keep Ballydehob FC moving forward.’