FORMER striker turned manager Mike Doolan guided Drinagh Rangers B to the West Cork League Division 2 title for the second year in a row.
The Canon Crowley Park club’s mantra of giving back to their local football club has seen Drinagh reap the benefits in recent seasons. Rangers B team made up of Masters League, ex-first team and up-and-coming youngsters claimed WCL silverware for the second consecutive year last weekend.
Not content with picking up the Premier Division title, Drinagh added the U19 Cup and U14 Cup for good measure before their senior B squad took centre stage. Drawing 1-1 with Castletown Celtic after extra-time in the WCL Division 2 play-off final, Rangers edged the resulting penalty shootout 4-3. Darragh O’Leary was on target for Castletown with Danny Hayes replying for the winners.
At the helm, one of the club’s greatest-ever strikers, Mike Doolan, has eased into the managerial role and helped continue Drinagh’s annual trophy haul. With assistant coach Kellie Doolan by his side throughout the season, the former West Cork League hit-man was thrilled with his squad’s progression.
‘Soccer is religion in Drinagh,’ Doolan told The Southern Star.
‘When it comes to Drinagh B, we have a mixture of the very young and the very old! It was the wise old heads that pulled the result out of the bag for us against Castletown though.
‘We are lucky in Drinagh in that we are not governed by the GAA. Fellas growing up see the club winning the whole time. No disrespect to the GAA but we live in a soccer-mad village blessed to have young people coming up through the ranks every year within a great underage structure.
‘There is no doubt in my mind that Drinagh’s success is down to having so many coaches that want to get involved and a lot of them are ex-players and current players.’
There is certainly an age-gap when it comes to listing the Drinagh Rangers B squad that has won the WCL Division 2 for the past two seasons. Yet, it is those “wise old heads” that are nurturing the younger players coming through.
‘Fellas like our captain James O’Regan, Denis O’Driscoll, Dave Curran, Eamonn Connolly and Liam O’Brien turn up week after week and are happy to get a game,’ Doolan added.
‘The standard of the Championship was higher this year because of the competition's format. Drinagh B were never going to compete with the likes of Spartak or Mizen because they are far stronger than us. That’s why splitting the league halfway through and playing off against teams alongside you in for the Division 2 trophy was a great incentive for our players. You have old fellas and young fellas with something to play for right up until the end of the season.
‘As manager, I am just happy to put something back into the club that gave me so much as a player. I have to deal with a few divas on the team alright though!
‘In all seriousness the one thing I always say about being involved with the Bs is that it is one big family. The beauty is that there isn’t one player on the Drinagh B team that thanks he’s better than anyone else.
‘As for managing, when the legs won't do what the mind wants, it is a lot easier coaching on the side-lines watching fellas having their ankles kicked!’
The Drinagh Rangers B squad includes Andy McCarthy, Denis O’Driscoll, James O’Regan, Steve Crowley, Paul Crowley, Colin McCarthy, Eamonn Connolly, Jack O’Sullivan, Thomas Jennings, David Curran, Sam Kingston, Liam O’Brien, Danny Hayes, Darren Hurley, Alan Murphy, James McCarthy, Ciarán O’Regan, Eoghan Daly, Liam Curran, Dylan Morgan, Kevin O’Mahony and Seamus O’Regan.