WHAT is the secret to Drinagh Rangers’ dominance of the West Cork League? Declan Deasy doesn’t hesitate with his answer: it’s the commitment of the players season after season.
That’s why, even without the management team of Deasy and Don Hurley on the sideline from next season, the duo expects Drinagh’s success to continue.
‘I don't think Drinagh will be going anywhere just because we are not involved. They won’t be falling back,’ Hurley told the Star Sport Podcast.
Deasy agrees. Alongside Hurley as Drinagh joint-managers for the past 22 seasons, they led the team to 11 West Cork League Premier Division titles, including the current three-in-a-row, four Beamish Cups and many more Parkway Cups, Premier Division Cups and Micheál Cronin Cup successes. But the real heroes in this story are the players.
‘They say myself and Don have given lot of commitment, but the players have given even more,’ Deasy said.
‘It’s their consistency of showing up, they are there every Sunday. There are some players on the team who have been playing for 13, 14 years and they haven't missed a game, including challenge games, through injury or any social events.
‘When you are dealing with that type of commitment it’s very easy to look after a team in the sense that if they are showing up you can pick your team for every Sunday. You’re not wondering if they will show up, because they will be there. The biggest part of our success is because of their commitment.’
The pair feel the time is right to hand the reins over to someone else.
‘Both of us came to the conclusion that we have done as much as we can,’ Hurley explained, and Deasy added: ‘The time seems right. For a club to develop, the same faces can’t be doing the same thing all the time so a change is good, especially when you have younger people coming in with new ideas.’
It will be a change for all involved. Hurley has been manager for 24 years, and the last 22 were alongside Deasy who he coached for his first two seasons in charge.
‘Declan was very easy to manage as a player,’ Hurley said. ‘He had won everything so many times before I got involved, I wasn’t telling him to do anything. He had been playing for the club since it started so it was great to get him involved because he knew everything and that helped.’
Together, it clicked.
‘We work very well together and I don't think we ever fell out. Declan is very patient; he is the calmer of the two of us,’ Hurley noted, with Deasy adding: ‘We worked it between us, we had different strengths and we used those strengths for the benefit of the team and the club. It developed over the years.’
The results back this up. Drinagh has been the most consistent and dominant force in the West Cork League, winning the Premier Division 11 times since the 2002/03 season. There are two three-in-a-rows in that: 2003 to ’05 and the current success.
So, the highlights?
The Premier Division and Beamish Cup double in 2007. Reaching the Munster Junior Cup semi-final in ’06. The first three-in-a-row. Winning the Premier title for the first time in ’03 by drawing away to Bunratty on the last day of the season. The current three-in-a-row, both Deasy and Hurley pointing to the quality of the league. Winning the 2017 Beamish Cup at Turner’s Cross. And the dream 2018 season is right up there too – Drinagh won all five competitions they competed in (Premier Division, Premier Division Cup, Beamish Cup, Micheál Cronin Cup and Maybury Coaches-Parkway Hotel Cup).
‘It all came together in 2018. I think that was the best squad we ever had. In the cup final after two minutes our two centre midfielders got injured and we were able to bring on two who were as good as them,’ Deasy said.
When the new season kicks off Hurley admits it’s hard to not imagine spending the winter going to matches and standing on the sidelines, but he will be kept busy with his other roles. He is Drinagh Rangers chairman, vice-chairman of the WCL, and also involved in underage coaching, including the recent West Cork Kennedy Cup squad that finished third. Deasy is also chairman of the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League and is secretary of Drinagh, so both men will still be actively involved in local soccer.
‘The beauty is I will be able to go to a game, stand back and enjoy it,’ Deasy added, knowing Hurley and himself have left Drinagh Rangers’ adult team in a great position.