BY GER McCARTHY
THE West Cork League’s return to the Oscar Traynor Cup following a six-year absence will begin with a glamour tie against the Cork AUL.
Drawn in Group C, West Cork will be at home to Cork AUL on the weekend of October 24/25th followed by two daunting away trips. Limerick host the WCL on November 14/15th before a final group fixture down in Kerry on November 28/29th.
Current Skibbereen AFC manager Keith Kennedy is back at the helm to oversee the Oscar Traynor campaign for a second time along with respected coach and UEFA A Licence holder David Hall.
Add in legendary Drinagh Rangers striker Mike Doolan and the West Cork League possesses a coaching staff to rival any other in the country for experience and dedication.
Kennedy guided West Cork to the last eight of the Oscar Traynor Cup in his previous stint and he along with his fellow coaches have selected a youthful squad for the 2015/16 campaign as well as some more experienced players.
There are also some familiar names with inter-county GAA experience included, with Cork forward Colm O’Driscoll, Skibbereen goalkeeper Ryan Price and Ilen Rovers star forward Dan MacEoin likely to play key roles in the upcoming group fixtures.
‘I think the Oscar Traynor Cup is an excellent outlet for some the best West Cork League players and emerging talent drawn from across the region,’ Kennedy commented to The Southern Star.
‘The competition is a great opportunity for 18-year-olds playing in West Cork to show what they can do at a higher level and enhance their own and the league’s reputation.
‘More and more junior players at that age are getting lost and dropping out of the system which is a big worry to me but this is a chance for some of the young talent to show what they can do at a national level.’
The build-up to West Cork’s opening tie against Cork has seen trials involving players from numerous clubs put through their paces before a final squad was selected.
Keith Kennedy hopes the hard work put in on and off the pitch over the past month will reap divideds once the competition kicks off next weekend.
‘Initially, we asked WCL clubs to send us their best players aged between 18 and 24 years old for trials and then we picked the more experienced players ourselves,’ said the Skibbereen AFC manager.
‘David Hall and I were on the same page from day one, hoping to use the Oscar Traynor Cup as a way to further develop the young talent that’s in abundance throughout the West Cork League and give them a chance in the competition.
‘The opening game against Cork should be a cracker because they are a good side but we have some outstanding forwards in our team. Limerick, away, will be our toughest game, no doubt about it. We drew 2-2 the last time we played there and qualified for the knockout stages so hopefully that’s a good sign.
‘We would have preferred to have more than one home game but the lads are up to the challenge and it is a great opportunity to push on and progress to the next phase.’
2015/16 West Cork League Oscar Traynor squad: Ryan Price, Jack Cowap, Ryan Desmond, Owen Collins, Colm O’Driscoll, Cian Coughlan (Skibbereen); Chris Collins, Conor McKahey, Josh Henry, Jonathan Leahy (Clonakilty AFC); Dan MacEoin (Baltimore); Mark Cronin, Bosco Minihane, Sasha Walden (Ballydehob); Barry O’Driscoll, Keith Jagoe, Jamie Walsh, Tomás Connolly, Barry O’Driscoll (H), JJ Collins (Drinagh Rangers); Barry O’Donovan, Jerry McCarthy, Mark Quinn, Tom Murphy (Dunmanway Town); Tom Collins, Dave Collins, Jason Collins (Togher Celtic); Eddie Goggin, Fionn Hurley, Kevin Holland, Liam Hegarty, Connor O’Driscoll (Bunratty United); Liam Kearney, Barry O’Leary, Brian Cronin (Leeside).