BY GER McCARTHY
JOHN Leahy hopes current West Cork League Division 2 leaders Clonakilty Town can build on gaining promotion from one of the region’s toughest leagues and emerge as champions before the season’s end.
Ask anyone familiar with West Cork League football and they’ll tell you the hardest division to gain promotion from remains Division 2. Although it represents the third tier of West Cork football, this particular league is comprised of enough evenly matched clubs and uncompromising fixtures to make it incredibly difficult to get out of.
Every participant is hungry to finish in the top two places and earn a shot at reaching the Premier Division. In short, the old cliché that there are no easy games is most apt when talking about Division 2.
Clonakilty Town head into the Christmas and New Year period having already secured promotion and looking like every inch champions elect. Yet, club founder and manager John Leahy – better known in WCL circles as ‘Mousey’ – doesn’t hold back when explaining the importance of his club’s recent achievement.
‘It was absolutely essential Clonakilty Town secured promotion this year because had we not then everyone involved would have faced a tough question as to whether it was worth carrying on,’ Leahy admitted.
‘It is a hugely difficult division to get out of, especially with such a young squad. We got off to a brilliant start and that helped get things going. Coming from 2-1 down to win 3-2 at Castletown Celtic in our opening game told me I had the players capable of making a run at promotion. There are a lot of tough teams in this division. Durrus are very, very good side, Drinagh Rangers B are always difficult to beat and Clonakilty AFC B are a smashing team that play good football.
‘Durrus are still the only club to defeat us which shows how consistently we have played this season. Yes, we are promoted but there are four games left and we are determined to get our hands on that trophy. We have only ever won one (adult) title in the club’s history so it would be great for a couple of the older lads like Jason Kidney to finish the campaign as champions.’
Clonakilty boasts two separate football clubs, Clonakilty AFC and Clonakilty Town, the latter utilising a unique sponsorship agreement with local businesses to keep the club afloat. John Leahy and his players are indebted to a number of organisations, most notably Eamonn Coughlan of Coughlan’s Fuel.
‘Clonakilty Town gets a different local business to sponsor each of our home games,’ Leahy explained.
‘There are too many to mention but without those businesses generosity and help we wouldn’t exist. Having said that, Eamonn Coughlan of Coughlan’s Fuel is our main club sponsor and the reason Clonakilty Town is still in existence today. Eamonn has been outstanding to us for a long time so myself and the players owe him a huge thanks for helping to keep our club going.’
With the Division 2 League trophy in sight plus the prospect of a potential Beamish Cup run in the offing there is much for Clonakilty Town to look forward to in 2017.
‘Myself and a few of the older players were talking about a Beamish Cup run and how we would love a crack off Clonakilty AFC!’ said Leahy.
‘That would be some tie as they are flying high in the Premier Division and the fact we just signed my son, Jonathan Leahy, from them. Now there’s a cup game that would attract a big crowd!
‘It’s been a great year already for our squad including Reuben Henry who has been outstanding for us. John Sheehan is another young player who has come through for us. I suppose the fact Clonakilty Town has three players on this year’s Oscar Traynor Cup panel just shows you, for a Division 2 club, the amount of talent within the West Cork League.
‘We are hoping to sign off a brilliant season with the title but there’s the not-so-small matter of the Clonakilty Classico against Clon AFC B to come first (on Monday, January 2nd). I’m delighted with promotion and just hope we can kick on and keep the club going.’