Following the Beamish Cup semi-final draw – Bantry Bay Rovers v Castletown Celtic, Drinagh Rangers v Clonakilty Town – GER McCARTHY analyses the last four left in the competition and rates their chances of success
Bantry Bay Rovers
Manager: Danny Peters.
Captain: Brian O’Donovan.
League form: Bay Rovers are currently embroiled in a dogfight to retain their PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division status. One place above Bunratty United at the bottom of the table, Bay faces an onerous task in retaining their top flight status in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Path to semi-final: An away trip Clonakilty AFC B marked Bay Rovers’ first Beamish Cup appearance of the season on January 15th. The opening round tie did not disappoint with the relegation-threatened side emerging 3-2 winners thanks to Gavin Johnson, Paul Drummey and Thomas Keavney efforts.
Johnson proved Bay’s hero in the second round, scoring twice to see off Kilmichael Rovers 2-0 before facing into a daunting trip away to Premier Division leaders Dunmanway Town. Rovers caused the biggest shock of the competition however, knocking out their fancied opponents 3-2 to book a place in the semi-finals. Gavin Johnson scored twice and Shane Drummey added another to cap a famous victory.
Main Man: Donal Casey – the young Bantry Bay Rovers player is amongst the best goalkeepers in the West Cork League Premier Division. Casey’s ability to keep clean sheets will be pivotal to Rovers’ chances of claiming the Beamish Cup.
How Bantry Bay Rovers can win the 2017 Beamish Cup: Bay Rovers possess an abundance of pace in a youthful line-up that includes Gavin Johnson, Shane McSweeney and Eoghan McElhinney. The Kealkil club will need that plus Martin Hurley’s composed defending if they to overcome two final hurdles.
Ger’s prediction: Castletown Celtic will most likely be dispatched in the semi-finals but Bantry Bay Rovers may not have enough attacking guile to overcome Drinagh in the decider.
Manager: Gary Shannon.
Captain: Jack O’Callaghan.
League form: Finished mid-table in West Cork League Division 2 before embarking on an impressive Beamish Cup run. Fielding a relatively young squad, Castletown lost only once in the league at home all season (3-2 to Clonakilty Town) and would have challenged for promotion had they managed more than two wins on the road.
Path to semi-final: A first round trip to Lakestone Park ended in a 5-1 triumph over St Martin’s, getting Castletown Celtic’s cup run off to the best possible start. The Castletownkenneigh side’s second round tie away to Baltimore proved a much tougher affair. Tied 1-1 at the end of both normal and extra time, Celtic required penalties to prolong their presence in the competition and triumphed 4-2 to setup a quarter-final against rivals Riverside Athletic. A five-goal thriller saw the Division 2 side knock their Premier Division opponents out of the Beamish Cup courtesy of Billy O’Brien (penalty), Fergal Kelleher and Kevin O’Donovan goals.
Main Man: Fergal Kelleher – produced a terrific individual display in the heart of Celtic’s back four during his team’s quarter-final win over Riverside and will be equally important against Bantry Bay Rovers.
How Castletown Celtic can win the 2017 Beamish Cup: Castletown head into the semi-final round as rank outsiders but that will not bother the Castletownkenneigh club one iota. Celtic requires their two best performances of the season to have any hope of overcoming Bay Rovers and (probably) Drinagh Rangers but stranger things have happened in the Beamish Cup.
Ger’s prediction: Castletown are hitting form at just the right time albeit a little late in the season. Resolute in defence, Celtic lack the clinical finishing needed to overcome Bantry Bay Rovers in the penultimate round.
Manager: John ‘Mousey’ Leahy.
Captain: Finbarr Butler.
League form: Clonakilty Town are the 2017 West Cork League Division 2 champions. An outstanding season concluded with the Darrara-based club seeing off Durrus, Clonakilty AFC B and Drinagh Rangers B to lift the trophy. A record of 15 wins, two draws and a solitary defeat from their 18 league fixtures solidified Town’s status as the most consistent team in Division 2. Clonakilty’s league success was based on a vibrant attack that scored a league-high 63 goals.
Path to semi-final: Town began their Beamish Cup odyssey with a tough away assignment against Courtmacsherry in Coolbawn on January 15th. Sean O’Reilly (2), Jonathan Leahy and Daniel Lane found the net in a 4-1 triumph to setup a second round meeting with Premier League side Ballydehob. Clonakilty produced a marvellous display to defeat their opponents 4-2 with Sean O’Reilly, Jonathan Leahy, John Hayes and Alan Murphy getting on the score-sheet.
An epic quarter-final against Division 1 champions Spartak Mossgrove produced the standout tie of this year’s Beamish Cup. 2-2 at the final whistle, the sides couldn’t be separated after extra-time resulting in penalty shootout which Clon edged 4-3.
Main Man: Sean O’Reilly – the former Ardfield striker has suffered an injury-plagued season but remains one of Clonakilty Town’s most potent attacking weapons.
How Clonakilty Town can win the 2017 Beamish Cup: In short, go defensive and look to hit Drinagh on the counter-attack. Town have nothing to lose and that makes them dangerous underdogs capable of causing an upset in both the penultimate and final rounds.
Ger’s prediction: Clonakilty Town have enjoyed a memorable campaign but will find an experienced Drinagh Rangers a bridge too far in the Beamish Cup semi-finals.
Managers: Don Hurley and Declan Deasy.
Captain: Keith Jagoe.
League form: Drinagh are currently battling Dunmanway Town for this season’s PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division trophy. A point behind the Mohona club following last weekend’s results, Rangers have yet to suffer a league defeat during another impressive campaign.
Don Hurley and Declan Deasy’s side also enjoyed a magnificent run in this year’s Munster Junior Cup, reaching the last 32 before bowing out to Waterford Crystal 5-4 after extra-time. The Canon Crowley Park club are in excellent form and capable of ending their season with a trophy.
Path to semi-final: Rangers received a bye in the opening round before travelling to Town Park for a meeting with fellow Premier Division club Bunratty United. A comfortable 6-0 victory was attained thanks to a Barry O’Driscoll (H) hat-trick plus additional Barry O’Driscoll (T), Jamie Walsh and Gearoid White strikes. O’Driscoll (T)’s lone effort was enough to see off Leeside 1-0 in a quarter-final victory at Inchigeela.
Main Man: Barry O’Driscoll (H) – one of the West Cork League’s most prolific strikers is enjoying another stellar campaign up front for Drinagh. A natural finisher, O’Driscoll (H)’s ability to knit midfield with attack will be crucial to his side’s chances of league and cup success.
How Drinagh can win the 2017 Beamish Cup: Drinagh’s best chance of lifting the famous trophy rests on not taking Clonakilty Town for granted in their upcoming semi-final or being sidetracked by a Premier Division title-battle. Possessing an experienced core, Rangers have a squad capable of winning the Beamish Cup.
Ger’s prediction: Drinagh Rangers will overcome Clonakilty Town after extra-time before seeing off Bantry Bay Rovers in the Beamish Cup decider.