Sport

Drinagh Rangers women make West Cork League history

March 6th, 2022 12:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

The Drinagh Rangers team that defeated Kilmallock United in the 2022 Munster FA Women’s Junior Cup last weekend. Back from left, Andrea Lordan, Eileen Hurley (captain), Evelyn Bennett, Caroline Buttimer, Julianne Hayes, Aisling Connolly, Deirdre Doolan, Brid Frewen and Roisin O'Driscoll. Front from left, Donna Wilson, Becca Hennigan, Rachel O'Donovan, Katie O'Driscoll, Sarah Collins and Catriona O'Mahony.

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Drinagh Rangers 1

Kilmallock United 1

(Drinagh Rangers won 5-4 on pens aet)

DRINAGH Rangers caused a huge shock and made history by defeating Kilmallock United in the opening round of the 2022 Munster FA Women’s Junior Cup at Canon Crowley Park last weekend.

The West Cork League side ply their trade in the region’s seven-a-side league and cup competitions, fielding two teams.

Drinagh made history against Kilmallock by becoming the first women’s team from West Cork to play in a Munster FA competition. Moving from astro to grass and from seven-a-side to 11-a-side football was never going to be easy. Getting their heads around having to face an established club like Kilmallock, even more difficult.

But Rangers produced a magnificent display, taking the opening round tie to extra-time following a 1-1 draw. Penalties were required to decide the outcome and Drinagh held their nerve to progress to the second round 5-4 on spot-kicks.

 

Drinagh captain Eileen Hurley played her part in their historic victory and admitted going from astro to grass was difficult but she, and her teammates, are delighted they made the effort.

‘In terms of preparing for Kilmallock United, it was quite difficult for us,’ Hurley told The Southern Star.

‘We didn’t have much of an opportunity to train on a grass pitch due to the bad weather so our build-up was not easy. All we could do was prepare as best we could the Wednesday night before the game. We tried to treat Kilmallock like any other game.

‘Just before kick-off, individually, we were probably all very nervous inside in the dressing room alright. As a team, we just sat and had the chats like we normally do! One of our players, Aisling Connolly, recently got engaged so that good news took our minds off the game which was no harm either.’

As for the Munster FA Women’s Junior Cup tie itself, the West Cork League side broke the deadlock courtesy of a long-range effort from Roisin O’Driscoll. The Drinagh player took aim from over 30 yards and found the top corner to make it 1-0.

Kilmallock United levelled from the penalty spot just before the break and the sides went in tied 1-1. Drinagh maintained a high tempo and crucially, never gave their opponents time on the ball.

Rachel O’Donovan was Drinagh’s standout player on the day despite being closely marked throughout the 90 minutes. Neither side was able to add to their total which meant two periods of extra-time. It remained 1-1 as two tiring teams struggled to make any headway in the final third which meant a penalty shootout.

‘It is worth remembering that Drinagh’s players were coming from 30 minutes a side on astro to playing over 120 minutes 11-a-side on grass, so yeah, we were fairly wrecked by the end of the game alright!’ Hurley admitted.

‘I’m pretty sure none of us had ever been involved in a penalty shootout in an 11-a-side game before either. Rachel O’Donovan scored our last penalty before Kilmallock missed their last one. We couldn’t believe it but we did it. Drinagh won a Munster FA cup tie.

‘I didn’t realise what we were facing or the fact that we became the first West Cork Women’s team to win a Munster cup tie. It was fantastic.

‘I can’t speak highly enough of our coaches Mike Doolan and Stephen Crowley. They are so good to us and give up all their free time for us. Their expertise and patience when it comes to training is one of the main reasons we won last Saturday.’

Drinagh Rangers will be away to Wilton in the next round to be played in or around March 19th/20th.

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