BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CLONAKILTY Community College have reported a clean bill of health for next Wednesday’s all-Cork Munster colleges’ Corn Ui Mhuiri senior football quarter-final against St Francis College, Rochestown.
The West Cork school had an injury concern over its 2015 dual Cork minor David Lowney – who picked up the 2015 West Cork Youth Sports Star of the Year award on Saturday night – as he was struggling with a hamstring injury.
But both Lowney and his teammate Ross Mannix have overcome their injury problems, which is a big boost to Clonakilty Community College and their manager Micheál O’Sullivan.
‘We played a game last Friday and David played three quarters of it so he should be okay for Wednesday. It’s looking good for him,’ O’Sullivan told The Southern Star.
‘Ross Mannix has been carrying a bit of a groin strain and he hasn’t been training much before this week. It was good to get him back out training again and he should also be okay, so it’s a clean bill of health on our side.’
In just their third year in the Corn Ui Mhuiri, Clonakilty already have a semi-final appearance (2015) to their name, but to get back to the last four again this year will take a huge effort.
Clonakilty finished as runner-up in Group B, behind Coláiste Choilm Ballincollig who beat the West Cork side (minus the injured Lowney) in the final group game (2-11 to 2-10) in late November.
Prior to that Clonakilty CC had beaten both St Fachtna’s of Skibbereen and Mercy Mounthawk Tralee so they were in a strong position before the defeat to Ballincollig that cost them top spot in the group.
The fall-out from that was Clonakilty were paired against Group A winners and last season’s beaten finalists St Francis, who hammered Tralee CBS (5-12 to 1-4) in their first game with Cork dual minor Sean Powter (Douglas) banging in two goals.
Rochestown then lost 2-12 to 1-11 against HS Clonmel, Powter again top scoring for his side (1-1), before a final round win (3-10 to 3-7) against Intermediate School Killorglin booked their ticket to the last eight, with Shane Kingston (Douglas) and Evan Ryle (Carrigaline) to the fore.
‘This is a huge game for us, considering how long we have only been in the competition. Rochestown won the U16 and a half equivalent competition two years ago so they will be one of the favourites to win the Corn Ui Mhuiri this year,’ Clonakilty CC manager O’Sullivan pointed out.
‘They have a lot of last year’s team and so do we, but in terms of experience in the competition they have a bit more than us as they were in last year’s final.’
Still, in Clonakilty’s favour is their 1-9 to 1-5 Simcox Cup round one win against Rochestown last November – but O’Sullivan feels this will have no bearing whatsoever on next Wednesday’s game.
‘When we beat them in the Simcox earlier in the year we played them on a Friday but they had played hurling on the Wednesday beforehand so they weren’t as sharp as they could be,’ the former Carbery Rangers manager pointed out.
‘That day, in fairness to us, it was the best that we have played this season. That was our best performance. It was a Cork derby and our lads got themselves up for a big game and they performed. We played well but that game won’t have any impact on next Wednesday. This is a different competition and we’ll be meeting a different calibre of Rochestown.’
This is a well-balanced Clonakilty CC team, from David Kiely (Ibane Gaels), Jonathan Deasy (Kilmeen) and Liam O’Donovan (Clonakilty) in defence, while Mark White (Clonakilty) and Sean Ryan (Bal) form a strong midfield pairing.
The addition of a fit-again Lowney and Mannix will boost the attack that also can call on Dylan Scannell (Kilmeen), Eoin Lawton (Ibane Gaels), Sean O’Donoghue (Clonakilty) and Kevin Keohane (Kilmeen).
‘We are going into Wednesday with a 50-50 chance and if we give a good account of ourselves we have a real opportunity,’ added O’Sullivan.