With the West Cork U21 football championships over, TOM LYONS picks his team of young stars
FOR many years the U21 championships have produced the best football and the best matches every season. Played early in the year, they set the standard for all grades that follow afterwards and few manage to live up to the excitement and the pure football shown at the U21 level.
Having watched most of the games in the South West U21A championship this season, and a few more in B and C, I have no doubt that the football we saw was not only as good as in previous years but often surpassed it.
Dohenys emerged surprise winners of the A championship while Kilmacabea surprised Bandon in the B final. While favoured teams like Clonakilty, Castlehaven, Newcestown and Ilen Rovers in the ‘A’ all eventually fell by the wayside, and hotly-tipped Bandon in ‘B’, all these teams contained some outstanding young footballers who in the future will ensure that the high standards of football we have become used to here in West Cork will continue.
Given the task of picking a team from the U21 grade in West Cork for 2017 is a daunting one with so many fine young players available for selection. The criterion we used was that the players we picked had to leave a big impression on their respective championships, not necessarily the best footballers in West Cork.
Unfortunately, some teams had to be knocked out in the first round and those players got little chance to shine, even though they might have made the Cork U21 panel. Some fine players had to be omitted because of the amazing competition in many positions.
So here goes as regards our West Cork U21 Football Team 2017.
Goalkeeper: Darragh McCarthy (Dohenys) – The Dohenys shot-stopper, who didn’t concede a goal, was soundness personified all season and while the forwards were producing fireworks up front, McCarthy was controlling everything at the back. It helped that he was playing behind a superb defence. Sub: Liam Tyner (Kilmeen).
Right corner back: Ronan Walsh (Castlehaven) – Played most of the games at full back but is an outstanding natural defender who could fill any position. Sub: Jerry Farrell (Dohenys).
Full back: Sean Daly (Dohenys) – A wealth of talent available in this position but a colossus for new champions Dohenys was Sean Daly, never bettered by any full forward all during the championship. Sub: O
ige Scannell (Kilmeen).
Left corner back: Liam O’Donovan (Clonakilty) –Another versatile defender, by far Clon’s best back all season and a tremendous man-marker. Also adept at attacking. Sub: Jerry O’Riordan (Carbery Rangers).
Right half back: Colm Dineen (Newcestown) – Slightly out of position but a stand-out figure for his side despite the heavy defeat by the Haven. A real attacking option. Sub: Alex Hassett (Ilen Rovers.).
Centre half back: Eoin Lavers (Dohenys) – The Doheny captain had few equals in the grade and was instrumental in Dohenys winning their first title since 2000. Strong, fast, hard and ferociously competitive. Sub: Tiarnán O’Connell (Clonakilty).
Left half back: Patrick Bohane (Castlehaven) – Marvellous attacking wing back, knows how to score and knows how to defend. Ultra-consistent and determined. Sub: Kevin Keohane (Kilmeen).
Midfield: Johnny Kelly (Dohenys) – Outstanding midfielders on all teams but Kelly’s work-rate and great leadership qualities, combined to undoubted football skill, makes him the number one. Sub: Cathal O’Donovan (Dohenys).
Midfield: Conor Nolan (Castlehaven) – Looked a class act in all games, stylish and driving, knows where the net is. Lifted the Haven on many occasions. Sub: Martin Collins (Kilmacabea).
Right half forward: Fionn Herlihy (Dohenys) – Only 17 years old but a marvellous prospect. Amazing work-rate and great strength in possession. Sub: Adam O’Brien (Clonakilty).
Centre forward: Damien O’Gorman (Kilmeen) – Probably the most stylish player in the championship with extraordinary vision and deceptive pace. Sub: Cathal Maguire (Castlehaven).
Left half forward: Adam Murphy (Bandon) – Another versatile player, great pace, loves to score, fierce determination. Top single match score of the year with 5-6 against Clann na nGael. Sub: Sean O’Donovan (Ilen Rovers).
Right corner forward: Damien Gore (Kilmacabea) – Amazing scoring machine, 1-31 in three outings. Beautifully balanced on both sides and a nightmare to mark. Sub: Sean McEvoy (Clonakilty).
Full forward: Mark Buckley (Dohenys) – A rare talent, impossible to mark and another scoring machine. Fearless, with speed to burn. Sub: Conor Cahalane (Castlehaven).
Left corner forward: Michael Hurley (Castlehaven) – Completes a full-forward line of incredible ability. A marked man in every game but impossible to keep quiet. We look forward to seeing him fully fit and watching him in full flight. Sub: Keith White (Dohenys).