BY GER McCARTHY
IAN Crowley has finished the 2019 West Cork League season in style by lifting even more silverware.
The man who captained Togher Celtic to Beamish Cup success was honoured with a Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star monthly award for April to recognise the club’s fantastic feat – and it’s the perfect end to an unforgettable season.
Togher ended a 22-year wait for one of the WCL’s most prestigious trophies at the Baltimore Road following a 1-0 win over Drinagh Rangers in April.
Overcoming three-in-a-row chasing Drinagh was one thing but lifting the famous Beamish Cup in front of a throng of delighted supporters and well-wishers made Togher’s success all the sweeter.
The rural West Cork club rounded off a successful 2019 campaign when Togher’s U18s captured the West Cork League U18 title thanks to a 2-1 defeat of Lyre Rovers. Danny Horgan and Robbie Lucey found the net on that occasion and the latter also played an important role in the senior side’s Beamish Cup triumph.
‘It was nice to get recognition from the Southern Star, C103 and the Celtic Ross Hotel after winning the Beamish Cup,’ Togher Celtic captain Ian Crowley (24) commented.
‘It was brilliant to win the Beamish Cup because I’d heard all down through the years how hard a competition it was to win.
‘To win anything at West Cork League level is a big thing really but to lift that Beamish Cup trophy was a very special feeling alright.
‘We were waiting a very long time for it and to get that monkey off our backs was important. Hopefully, we can drive on again in the coming year.’
Celtic will head into the new 2019/20 campaign with renewed confidence having won a major trophy, becoming U18 league champions and more importantly, having challenged for the Premier Division title until a poor run of form in the closing months.
‘There were four or five clubs involved in the Premier title race but a couple of poor results ended our chances,’ Crowley admitted.
‘These things happen throughout the course of a season but if you want to be successful you have to be consistent throughout the whole thing. It was only two or three results that put us out of it. You just can’t afford any slip-ups especially when things are so tight at the top.’
An apprentice electrician with Sean Ahern Electrical in Cork, Crowley understood the importance of having so many of Togher’s younger supporters and players on the Baltimore Road pitch to experience their senior team winning a prestigious trophy.
‘We have to be one of the smallest rural clubs in the West Cork League,’ Crowley stated.
‘There were a lot of U10 and U14s out on the Skibbereen pitch that day. When they the likes of us celebrating winning the way we did we just hope it will continue to drive them on in the next few years as well.
‘Our numbers are smaller at underage level than most other clubs around yet we have had good results over the last few years. Our U18s showed what can be done with a bit of organisation and self-belief. Things are looking up for the club again because of that.
‘As a club we just have to keep plugging away. There were not that many of us around when Togher last won the Beamish Cup so hopefully the younger brigade can carry on the tradition in the years ahead.’
Some of the names of the aforementioned younger brigade include Robbie Lucey, Johnny Kelly, Donnacha Collins and Ciarán Murray. All four have made their mark in the first team with goalkeeper Murray playing a starring role in helping Celtic defeat Drinagh in this year’s Beamish Cup decider.
‘Those U18 players are the fellas we will be hoping to see in the first team next season,’ Crowley said.
‘There have been four or five players come out of that U18 squad and made their mark more or less straight away. That’s very encouraging and there were plenty of younger fellas on the sideline too who are anxious to get their chance. You have to have people coming through the whole time otherwise things can go stale very quickly.
‘It is just great to see the club producing players of Robbie Lucey and Ciarán Murray’s quality. Seeing young fellas coming through gives everyone in the club a big boost.
‘To be honest, none of the older players have mentioned packing it in. Some have more miles on the legs than others but I’d say 99 per cent of the current team will be lining out again next season. It is hard to beat winning the Beamish Cup but there is a drive to come back and do it again next year.’