BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CLONAKILTY Community College will need to improve their performance levels by ‘five to ten per cent’ if they are to make more history in the Corn Uí Mhuirí, according to trainer Micheál O’Sullivan.
The West Cork outfit locks horns with Intermediate School Killorglin in a Corn Uí Mhuiri (Munster colleges’ senior A football) quarter-final on Wednesday, having qualified for the knockout stages of this competition for the very first time.
Before Christmas, Clonakilty finished top of Group A, after a first-round loss to Coláiste Choilm Ballincollig (3-8 to 0-14) was followed up with wins against both DLS Macroom (2-15 to 1-11) and Tralee CBS (4-7 to 1-9).
Their opponents, Mid Kerry school IS Killorglin, were runners up in their three-team group that saw All-Ireland and Munster champions, Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, take top spot.
‘We have improved in every game this year, from playing Macroom to Coláiste Choilm, and from Coláiste Choilm to Tralee,’ trainer O’Sullivan said.
‘We need to, at least, reproduce the performance we gave against Tralee but if we can we need to put another five to ten per cent on top of that. We need to be, at least, at that level if we want to be competitive.’
Clonakilty, one of only two Cork schools in the last eight along with Rochestown, are waiting on the fitness of two key players for this game.
Clonakilty’s Eoin Deasy missed the win against Tralee CBS game after he suffered an injury playing rugby, while goalkeeper Micheál Whelton (Ibane Gaels) pulled his quad muscle while training over Christmas. Both players are rated ‘50/50’ for Wednesday and O’Sullivan is ‘hopeful’ that the duo will take their place in the starting 15.
In a boost Clonakilty’s Tiarnan O’Connell, who has been out injured with a broken collarbone, is back on the panel and looks set to play a part on Wednesday if called on.
An improving team that has David Lowney, Mark White and John McEvoy currently in with the Cork minor footballers and a host of players in with development squads, Clonakilty Community College have adjusted well to life in the Corn Uí Mhuiri, as this is just the school’s second season in the competition.
‘When we entered the competition it was a goal of ours to impress upon the lads the magnitude of the Corn Uí Mhuiri, its history and how important it is,’ O’Sullivan said.
‘The lads know that, they know the level of football is high and they have worked really hard and are getting their rewards now.’
Careful not to overwork the Clonakilty Community College players over the Christmas period, to keep them fresh for Wednesday’s game, if O’Sullivan’s young troops jump this next hurdle then it’s another Kerry team in the last four.
‘There are five Kerry schools in the last eight so it’s almost impossible to avoid them,’ O’Sullivan said.
‘To be involved at this stage of the competition is fantastic for the players and the school, and we know that if we win this game then we will get a crack off either Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne or Tralee CBS in the semi-final. That’s a huge carrot there, especially when Dingle are All-Ireland champions.’
Ross Mannix has been his school’s main score-getter to date, hitting a hat-trick in the win over Tralee CBS, while grabbing 1-3 against Macroom and 0-3 against Ballincollig. Cork minor David Lowney hasn’t been far behind in the scoring stakes, while Darren Santry (Kilmeen) and Dylan Scannell (Ahán Gaels) have also made impressions.
Killorglin lost their first game to Dingle (4-16 to 1-9) before producing a terrific comeback to oust Coláiste Chriost Rí (3-8 to 3-7) in their winner-take-all game.
Clonakilty CC boss O’Sullivan, manager of the Carbery Rangers’ senior football team, never played in the Corn Uí Mhuiri himself but has been involved in the competition for well over a decade, previously with Carrigaline.
He knows what this competition is all about and is urging Clonakilty’s young footballers to make the most of this opportunity.