BARRY O’Driscoll has put his home of Hawthorn, Drimoleague, on the map.
It’s three miles outside Drimoleague on the road to Skibbereen.
He has also put his Drinagh Rangers team-mate Barry O’Driscoll from Toughbawn, Drinagh on the map.
They share the same name and same team – but not the same goal-scoring record.
‘He was the most prolific centre-back in the league for a few years!’ Hawthorn’s Barry laughs.
One is the best finisher in the West Cork League, the other a top defender. But, as you can imagine, with them sharing the same name, confusion reigned.
‘He used to be getting all the credit for my goals so we had to stop it!’ Barry smiles.
To distinguish between the two, in match reports they’re referred to as Barry O’Driscoll (H) and Barry O’Driscoll (T), ‘H’ and ‘T’ a head-nod to their homelands.
Since then Hawthorn’s Barry goal tally hasn’t seen goals go missing while Toughbawn’s Barry remarkable goal-scoring record from a few seasons back has dried up …
‘In fairness, he is a good man on free kicks but I don’t think he scored any this year – that’s down for him on other seasons but he’ll probably claim a few of mine anyway,’ jokes Barry, as he accepted the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star Award for May on Monday night.
He is captain of the Drinagh Rangers team that dominated the 2017/18 West Cork League. They cleaned up, winning all five competitions they competed in – the Premier Division title, Premier Division Cup, Beamish Cup, Micheál Cronin Cup and the Maybury Coaches-Parkway Hotel Cup.
It was a dream season for Declan Deasy and Don Hurley’s crew.
Defending the Beamish Cup title was sweet but winning the league title, after finishing second the past two seasons, meant a lot. They lost only one game in the league, had the best defensive record (14 goals conceded), the second most prolific attack (35 goals scored) and had to chase down long-time leaders Lyre Rovers in the title run-in.
For Barry, in his first season as captain, it couldn’t have gone any better. He broke the 30-goal barrier again, for the fourth season in a row, but, and it’s a mark of a prolific striker, he isn’t happy his final tally is down on the previous two years.
‘Thirty goals this season. It’s a bit down,’ he says.
‘Well, it was 37 the season before, 36 before that, then it was 32, and in the first four of five years it was in the twenties,’ the 29-year-old points out.
Thirty goals in one season is still an incredible haul.
‘We had so many games this year I had to break the 30-goal mark,’ Barry says, ‘and when you are use to 37 and 36 for the last two seasons, you think 30 is a disappointment.
‘But there weren’t any times we won 7-0 or 8-0 so a lot of the goals were important and mattered.’
He scored twice in a 2-2 draw with Premier Division title rivals Lyre Rovers in March, he powered home a header in the 2-0 Beamish Cup final win against Lyre (his third goal in a Beamish Cup final) and there was a strike in a cup quarter-final at home to Togher, they are some of the goals that stand out for the Drinagh captain whose style is to lead by example rather than banging doors.
‘Every two years we have a new captain,’ explains Barry, the electrical engineer working in Blackpool who adds the spark to the Drinagh attack.
‘Keith Jagoe was captain for the previous two years. After the last game of last season, Declan Deasy, the manager, mentioned it to me.
‘I’ve been playing a long time but I’ve never seen myself as captain material, making rousing speeches and all that – but they gave me plenty of practice with acceptance speeches this season!
‘I prefer to lead by example on the pitch and do my best that way than giving speeches in the dressing-room. It’s not my thing to shout and roar to get fellas going.
‘We had a few young fellas playing this year so I would give a bit of advice when I could, especially to the forwards, because I have that experience.’
Trying to follow-up this season’s success in the next campaign is already a big ask.
‘I should nearly call it a day now as captain! It can’t be bettered!’ he says.
‘The next challenge will be to try and defend all these titles. It’s a big ask but that’s what we have to try and do.’
And Barry has backed his Drinagh team-mates to deliver the goods again, just like they have this season. They have the ideal management team in Deasy and Hurley, and he feels they have the perfect mix in the team.
‘This group has stuck together for a good few years now,’ he explains.
‘The core of the team is from the U18 side that we had fierce success with, we won everything. The main spine of the team now is the same age as myself, 28, 29.
‘JJ Collins, the other Barry, Keith Jagoe, Tomás Connolly, Gearoid White, you have five, six players the same age that have played together for years. We should be coming to our peak now.
‘Well, saying that, Rob Oldham is 52 so I don’t know has he had any peak!
‘We were threatening to do something one year but to win everything in the one season is amazing.
‘We have some older lads too, the two Robs and JJ Hurley who’s been going forever.
‘This year we got a few new younger lads too which was a big addition – my younger brother Don (former Cork U21 footballer), Daniel McCarthy and Ian Jennings. That meant we had a bigger squad and seeing as you can make five subs in the soccer this year, it was a big help because we had the players to bring on.’
Drinagh have a strength in depth that no other West Cork League squad has and what also helps is that the core of this team are soccer-only so there are no GAA distractions like other local clubs have.
Barry admits Drinagh wouldn’t be where they are now without the influence of joint-managers Deasy and Hurley, the only coaches he has ever had in all his years playing with Drinagh.
These weeks, he’s enjoying the off-season and the World Cup, manna from heaven for this football-nut, before attention will turn to next season and Drinagh’s defence of five titles.
On a personal level, he’ll look to break that 30-goal barrier again, all the time watching out that Toughbawn’s Barry doesn’t claim any of his goals as his own.
Until then, Barry’s biggest problem is trying to find room in the Drinagh trophy cabinet for this latest award.