Sport

Courtmac’s return to the West Cork League sparks huge local interest

November 3rd, 2020 8:45 AM

By Ger McCarthy

Pitchside in Courtmacsherry, the Coolbawn location is one of the most scenic spots in the West Cork soccer league; from left, Ryan O’Donovan, Sean Holland (manager), Ronan O’Sullivan and Alan Kiely.

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THEY’RE back and intent on making their mark. After a three-year absence from the West Cork League Courtmacsherry are back in the big time and they’re determined to re-establish themselves amongst the region’s top clubs.

The record books will show a 3-0 Courtmacsherry victory away to Castlelack on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 Championship campaign. Everything has been locked down since then but that result had more significance than any other considering the effort that went into getting the winners back on the pitch.

‘It’s three years since Courtmacsherry last played in the West Cork League,’ former club player and manager Kieran Flynn told The Southern Star.

‘There has always been a good tradition of soccer in Courtmacsherry and I would have played myself back in the late 90s.

‘Interest just kind of waned a bit from 2016 onwards. Around that time, I stood down from the senior team and set up an U18 team and entered the West Cork League U18 division. It was important we got that team going because, had we not, I don’t think the interest would have been there within the current group and starting up a senior team again. We would have missed the boat.

‘The lockdown gave the club an opportunity to get things organised. That’s been one benefit from it anyway. A lot of the local lads are studying from home rather than away at college so that’s the reason a good few 20-somethings have been looking for something to do and signed up for Courtmacsherry.’

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One of those 20-somethings is Ronan O’Sullivan and without him, Courtmacsherry would not have been able to re-join the WCL’s ranks. O’Sullivan’s determination to get his local team back competing involved everything from cutting the grass on the Coolbawn pitch to filling in the registration forms in time for the big kick-off.

The Courtmacsherry native’s Trojan efforts had the desired effect with no less than 43 players signing up.

‘I was just anxious to get things going in Courtmacsherry once again,’ Ronan O’Sullivan explained.

‘Kieran Flynn was involved with the club for many years so I got in touch and he helped me along the way. That kick-started a load of phone calls and emails to try and get the club back up and running. The West Cork League’s John Buckley was very helpful as well.

‘I put the word out to my friends and others I thought might be interested in playing and got a huge response. To be honest, I don’t know if there has ever been as much interest in Courtmacsherry soccer.

‘We have 43 senior players’ names registered and looking to play week in and week out which, to me anyway, is absolutely brilliant.

‘To be fair, I would put a lot of that down to Covid and just looking to keep active and get back out playing in the West Cork League again. That is the way it is with a lot of other clubs right now too.’

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Time was of the essence but Ronan O’Sullivan managed to get everything in order despite a tight three-week window between the end of a Covid-affected 2020 campaign and the new 2021 season.

‘Getting Courtmacsherry going again was about a month in the making,’ O’Sullivan explained.

‘We had pretty much everything, the paperwork, registration and pitch sorted by the end of September. It was full on and there was seemingly something new to be done every day but, thankfully, we got there.

‘We didn’t even have enough time to organise any friendlies so it was straight into the first game. Talk about a tough decision picking the team for that game away to Castlelack!

‘Most of the players are older than me so I doubt they would have listened to anything I was going to say. Thankfully, Sean Holland came in and he will help manage the team. We defeated Castlelack in Bandon on the first weekend and had 18 players togged out for it. We brought on all five subs in a 3-0 win which was brilliant.

‘We have begun non-contact training but no one knows what’s going to happen now with the lockdown.

‘There is a seriously talented squad in Courtmacsherry and, if the lads were to keep at it for the whole season, I’m certain that the club could go places. It is just a matter of what people will want to do once the lockdown is lifted and the GAA season returns.

‘Anyone I’ve spoken to in Courtmacsherry is delighted to see the soccer club back. We had about 15 supporters cheering us on against Castlelack which was brilliant. Hopefully, we can keep it all going and finish out the season.’

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For anyone who has ever played there, Courtmacsherry’s home ground of Coolbawn is one of the most picturesque pitches in the country.

Located close to the coastline makes it one of the most bitterly cold grounds to play on during the winter months and New Year.

Ronan O’Sullivan is hoping Coolbawn will become a fortress for his returning club but the spectre of losing players to the GAA and other sports represents a more immediate concern.

‘I’d be honest and say that is the one of worst worries we have, what will happen once the GAA comes back because so many of our players are heavily involved,’ O’Sullivan said.

‘You’d be hoping they wouldn’t scatter but right now, everyone is, or at least was until Covid kicked in, committed to getting Courtmacsherry back to where they belong in the West Cork League.

‘That’s why having 43 players registered is so important. Ask any other club, losing players, not just to GAA but other sports as well, is a constant worry. Hopefully, with the numbers that have signed up, we will be able to cope.

‘Being able to go back using Coolbawn as our home ground was also important. It wasn’t in the best of shape having not been used in so long. My brother Evan O’Sullivan, Rory Holland and myself got together one morning, cut the grass and got the roller out. A few more helped out and it is looking great now.’

Courtmacsherry are back in the West Cork League following a three-year hiatus thanks to the dedicated efforts of local soccer-mad enthusiasts.

Let’s hope their large squad and picturesque ground remain constants over the coming seasons.

 

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