THE West is awake and Beara is bouncing, thanks to the heroics of its next generation of football stars. And they are not finished yet.
Beara Community School overcame Limerick’s Salesian College Pallaskenry to claim the 2022 Munster PPS U19D Munster football championship last Friday evening.
A school team made up of players from Adrigole, Castletownbere, Garnish, Urhan, Kenmare Shamrocks (Kerry) and Kilgarvan (Kerry) defeated their Limerick rivals 3-13 to 3-8 in front of a huge attendance that generated a raucous atmosphere.
Heavy showers added to the already difficult conditions at a windswept Mountcollins venue so it is to Beara Community School and Salesian College Pallaskenry’s credit that such an exciting Munster final developed.
Playing against the wind in the opening half, Beara failed to take advantage as the sides changed ends tied 1-7 to 2-2, Lee Kelly scoring the West Cork side’s only goal. The second period was much more open despite the worsening conditions. Salesian College Pallaskenry built a 3-7 to 2-8 lead with less than ten minutes to go but Beara Community School dug deep and staged a late comeback.
Outscoring their opponents 1-5 to 0-1 during an intensely physical closing spell, Beara Community School deservedly won by five points thanks to Lee Kelly and Tom O’Connor (1-2 each), Fintan Finner (0-5), Dylan Crowley (1-0), Gerard O’Shea (0-2), Tiernan O’Sullivan and Tommy Peter O’Sullivan (0-1 each) scores.
Dara Crowley and Cian O’Connell have overseen Beara Community School’s provincial success.
For the winners, repeating their provincial schools’ title triumph of two years previous was down to hard work and a panel of players desperate to move on to an All-Ireland schools’ semi-final. That was something Beara CS missed out on in 2020 and joint-coach Dara Crowley believes was a driving force in last week’s victory.
‘A lot of lads on the current panel would have won this Munster PPS title two years ago,’ Crowley told The Southern Star.
‘They didn’t get the chance to progress on to an All-Ireland because of Covid back then though. There has been something about them this year, a determination to go all the way, to challenge for an All-Ireland that was denied them the last time they were champions. You’d have seen a fierce drive in the older lads especially to achieve that.
‘A lot of the team come from small clubs so for a lot of the lads, this is probably the highest standard of football that they have reached.
‘An All-Ireland title is something hard to come by especially if you live in a rural area and play for a small-sized club. This Munster PPS tournament gives those lads a chance to test themselves against quality opposition and raise their game. They are a very united bunch and a dangerous team to play against as Pallaskenry found out.’
The Beara secondary school’s reward for overcoming Salesian College Pallaskenry is an All-Ireland semi-final against whoever emerges from Ulster sometime before the end of the month and at a neutral venue. An opportunity to make up for missing out on a similar last-four encounter two years before will give a talented Beara Community School side all the motivation they need.
‘There was a massive Limerick following at the final and we had plenty of supporters there too but what an atmosphere. The referee commented to me at one stage that it was like officiating at a Galatasaray game!’ Dara Crowley added.
‘In fairness to our lads, they dug in. Fintan Finner at midfield, when we needed him the most, he was one of many players who stood up to be counted. Look, everyone put their shoulders to the wheel, they had to. Both side’s finishing was excellent which only added to the final. It was a great game of football and one of the most exciting finals we have been involved in, in a long time.
‘Talented teams like the one Beara Community School has right now don’t come along too often. Once they pass through, it is hard to replace them. You have to make the most of them when you have the opportunity.
‘Everyone is thrilled to have brought another Munster PPS title back to Beara but we are all focussing on that All-Ireland semi-final now.’
Beara CS: Dara Crowley (Kenmare Shamrocks), Liam Crowley (Adrigole), Breixo Carleton (Castletownbere), Shane Power (Castletownbere), Kevin Sullivan (Castletownbere), Mikey Orpen (Castletownbere), Jack Murphy (Castletownbere), Ronan Sheehan (Garnish), Eoghan O’Sullivan (Adrigole), Lee Kelly (Castletownbere), Séan O’Shea (Adrigole), Tiernan O’Sullivan (Adrigole), Darragh Harrington (Urhan), Niall O’Shea (Urhan), Daniel Mason (Adrigole), Colm Murphy (Castletownbere), Olan Murphy (Castletownbere), Jack Hanly (Castletownbere), Darragh Murphy (Castletownbere), Jack Crowley (Adrigole), Fintan Finner (Castletownbere), Tommy O’Sullivan (Adrigole), Tom O’Connor (Adrigole), Killian Murphy (Castletownbere), Gerard O’Shea (Adrigole), Oisin Lynch (Urhan), James Spencer (Castletownbere) ,Tuan Millen (Garnish), Mikey O’Sullivan (Adrigole), Cian O’Connell (Kilgarvan).