GER McCARTHY REPORTS
CLINICAL Castlelack claimed the 2022 West Cork League Masters title under floodlights in Castletownkenneigh.
‘Winning this Master League trophy epitomises the effort that the lads have put in this year,’ Castlelack’s Tadgh Curtin said.
‘We went through the summer unbeaten even though we were disappointed with the result against AC Kilgoban on the previous Tuesday night (which led to the play-off). The lads really stepped up tonight. I told them before kick-off that we had to give 100 percent and have no regrets. They did it.’
The Brinny club led AC Kilgoban 1-0 two minutes into injury-time of the recent concluding Masters League regular season fixture. AC equalised in the game’s final attack and earned a last gasp 1-1 draw. That result denied Castlelack the title and forced a play-off with Skibbereen, who finished joint-top with the Brinny side, the following Friday.
Castletownkenneigh was the venue for a winner-take-all encounter in which Skibbereen started positively. Aaron O’Regan fired a long-range effort inches wide and Skibb forced a series of corners during a bright spell. Failure to convert their early dominance into goals proved costly as Castlelack opened the scoring.
The Masters League’s top goal scorer, Kyle O’Donovan, got on the end of a swift passing move and gave goalkeeper Denis McCarthy no chance after eight minutes.
Creditably, Skibbereen’s response was positive and the Baltimore Road club was the better side for the remainder of an entertaining first half. John Hodnett, John O’Donovan and Liam O’Brien wasted chances to equalise but Castlelack had opportunities too. Kyle O’Donovan blazed wide from a tight angle after a Derek McCarthy daisy-cutter flew past an upright.
The Brinny club maintained their narrow 1-0 advantage into the second period. Midfielders Eddie Andepu and Sean O’Connell protected the Castlelack back four with goalkeeper Richard Fleming proving a safe pair of hands whenever called upon.
Skibbereen’s attacks intensified as the second half progressed with Jack Carroll heading wide and Darragh O’Regan constantly probing from the centre of the pitch.
The outcome of an evenly-fought final was decided after 44 minutes. Castlelack counter-attacked and won a free-kick ten yards outside the penalty box. Derek McCarthy stepped forward and curled a magnificent effort over the Skibbereen wall and into the bottom corner of the net.
Kyle O’Donovan had the ball in the Skibbereen net shortly after only to have the effort correctly ruled out for offside.
Skibb’s chances of making a comeback suffered a setback when they were reduced to ten players following a red card. Despite their numerical disadvantage, Skibb pulled a goal back when Alan Cahalane brilliantly chipped Richard Fleming from the edge of the box.
Two-one down, Skibbereen imploded for a second time when another of their players was sent off. The remaining nine Skibbe representatives did their best in a difficult situation and were not helped by the heavens opening as the clock ticked down.
Castlelack saw out the remaining time and finished a cracking West Cork League Masters season as the most deserving of winners.
The newly crowned Master champions have another big day coming up on September 17th when a Republic of Ireland Masters team including Tony Cascarino and Ray Houghton visits Brinny to take on Castlelack in a massive fundraiser for the West Cork League club.
Castlelack: Richard Fleming, Ian Stewart, Gavin Kiely, Darragh Kiely, Bryan Powell, Sean O’Connell (captain), Kyle O’Donovan, Derek McCarthy, Brendan Scahill, Edwin Andepu, Dan O’Brien, Ray McCarthy, John Murphy, Pa Barry, Diarmuid Quinlan, Gary Cronin.
Skibbereen: Denis McCarthy, James Reen, Alan Tanner, Padraig Courtney, John Allan (captain), Liam O’Brien, Darragh O’Regan, John Hodnett, Alan Cahalane, Aaron O’Regan, John O’Donovan, Jack Carroll, John Bohane, Jerry O’Brien.
Referee: Tim McDermott.