TOM Barry and his Lyre Rovers squad are eager to get their hands on the West Cork League Beamish Cup having come agonisingly close four years ago.
Only a couple of miles separate the town of Clonakilty and Lyre Rovers’ home ground. Both sets of players and managers know one another well so there will be few surprises when the two teams walk out onto the Baltimore Road pitch for Sunday’s Beamish Cup final (2pm).
The same ground staged Lyre’s previous cup final appearance against Drinagh Rangers back in 2018. Having defeated Clonakilty Town 2-1 in the penultimate round, Rovers lost 2-0 to the all-conquering Canon Crowley Park side that went on to claim five trophies that season.
Now, Lyre are back and eager to get their hands on the region’s most prestigious trophy at the expense of an opponent they know well.
‘It is a bit different compared to 2018 as you are talking about two very different Lyre Rovers teams but the hunger is definitely still there to win that cup,’ Lyre manager Tom Barry tells The Southern Star.
‘We have a few new players brought in since then and Clonakilty are the same. The last time we played them (Clonakilty) back in March, they beat us easily enough, 3-0, after they had already defeated us 4-0 at the start of the season. We know how good a team they are and that’s why they will be favourites to win having played in the last two Beamish Cup finals as well.
‘Clonakilty are very strong at the moment following the amalgamation of the two clubs in the town a couple of years ago. That has made their team strong in every position. They haven’t lost that many games this year either. Clon also had a great run in this year’s Munster Junior Cup and were very unlucky to lose against Clonmel.’
Currently sitting five points clear of the Premier Division relegation zone, Lyre remain in a battle to retain their top-flight status, boosted by a 4-1 win against Togher Celtic last weekend. Away from their relegation scrap, Rovers have reserved some of their best displays for this season’s Beamish Cup. Kilgoban Celtic were knocked out 3-2 prior to travelling to Castletownbere and defeating Beara United 5-1.
A superb semi-final tussle with Riverside Athletic saw Lyre secure a 3-1 win thanks to a Kevin Keohane brace and late Mike Keohane strike.
‘We have scored a few goals on the way to the final so it is going to come down to how well we defend on the day,’ Barry says.
‘How well we settle into the final will be crucial, too. That has been our downfall this year, getting off to slow starts. Our last league game against Drinagh, we gave them a two-goal start inside ten minutes. After that, we were every bit as good as them. That’s why how well we start against Clonakilty will be very important.’