Sport

Clonakilty Community College targets semi-final spot

January 17th, 2023 3:34 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Dan Twomey is an important player for Clonakilty Community College.

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AFTER ending the Corn Uí Mhuirí dreams of one Tralee team already, Clonakilty Community College are targeting a second scalp from the Kerry capital on Wednesday in Banteer (1.45pm).

Five days before Christmas the West Cork school dumped last year’s defeated finalists, Tralee CBS, out of this season’s competition after a dramatic smash-and-grab 2-9 to 0-13 win.

Five points down at one stage in the second half, Christmas came early for Clonakilty CC when they battled back to snatch victory – and a spot in the quarter-finals of the prestigious Munster competition. A sweet win, too, because Tralee had hammered Clon 4-13 to 1-8 in last season’s quarter-final. This time Clonakilty advanced at The Green’s expense.

Next up are Mercy Mounthawk of Tralee in a quarter-final on Wednesday afternoon. It’s another Kerry test for the West Cork school that also beat another Kingdom side, Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra of Rathmore, in the group stage – so can Clonakilty claim a hat-trick against Kerry opposition?

‘We beat Tralee CBS and they have always been seen as the big team in Tralee, but Mounthawk are very strong – they made the final of the O’Sullivan Cup in Kerry where they lost to St Brendan’s. They will be a good team, and any day you play a team from Kerry you know it will be a tough day out,’ says Clonakilty CC manager Diarmuid O’Donovan, also known for his exploits as St James’ goalkeeper.

 

Confidence is high in the Clonakilty school’s ranks after their win against Tralee CBS. Clon senior Fergal Murphy scored two goals. 2022 Cork minor Olan O'Donovan (Ibane Gaels) kicked 0-3, as did current Cork minor Timothy Cullinane (Owen Gaels). Dan Twomey (Owen Gaels), in with the Cork U20s, is another go-to-man, while the Clonakilty duo of Darragh Gough and Aaron Cullinane, both involved with the Cork minors last season, are two more important figures. Kilmeen’s Cillian Twohig is another who has caught the eye of county selectors. It’s a talented crop that has set its sights on a semi-final spot, but manager Diarmuid O’Donovan knows they need to pull out a big performance. ‘Our form in the group stage was up and down – we were really good against Rathmore, not so good against St Flannans, and against Tralee there were patches of good and not-so-good, but we kept going,’ he says.

Clonakilty hammered Rathmore by 4-18 to 0-9, as Olan O’Donovan (2-7) and Darragh Gough (2-4) ran riot. They hit a bump against Clare school St Flannan’s, losing 3-8 to 0-11, which set up the must-win showdown with Tralee CBS.

‘The first day out against Rathmore, everything that could go right did go right. We defended very well. Everything the forwards touched went over the bar and we also scored four goals,’ O’Donovan says.

‘The delay for the game against Flannans didn’t do us any favours. Our preparation wasn’t ideal, there was a lot of club action still going on, and it showed; we weren’t as sharp as we should have been. All the club action was finished after that so we put the shoulder to the wheel then for the Tralee game; it was do-or-die. 

‘This team has great heart, they’ll keep going, they want to do well for the school and they want to represent their clubs in the school jersey.’

The Clonakilty school’s top team is pulling from many local clubs – Clonakilty, Carbery Rangers, Owen Gaels (amalgamation of Ballinascarthy and St Oliver Plunkett’s), Ibane Gaels (amalgamation of Argideen Rangers and Barryroe), St James and Kilmeen. This group has already shown it has the guts for the fight and they must dig deep again in their quarter-final.

‘It’s great for the school and a great confidence booster for the players to be in the knock-out stages,’ O’Donovan said.

‘If we can go one step further than we got last year it would be massive. This competition is a shop window for lads too, to show what they can do against the best players their age in Munster. This is a big, prestigious competition, this is the highest standard that a lot will get to play at.’

If the Clon school advances to the last four for the first time since 2019, then they will play the winner of Hamilton High School versus St Brendan’s College. It was the latter that defeated Clon by nine points in the ‘19 semi-final in Cill na Martra. First, it’s time to end Tralee’s interest in this year’s competition.

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