Dunmanway Town end Drinagh's reign as champs

May 5th, 2019 5:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Dunmanway Town's Mark Buckley is challenged by Drinagh Rangers' Keith Jagoe during the WCL Premier Division game at Dunmanway. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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DUNMANWAY Town ended Drinagh Rangers’ reign as West Cork League Premier Division champions following a 1-1 draw in Mohona.

The final match of another engrossing Premier Division title-race pitted two old rivals against one another with the West Cork League’s most important trophy on the line. 

Defending champions Drinagh Rangers were coming off the back of two cup final defeats but knew victory would secure a second league championship.

As for Dunmanway, the home side knew they would be crowned champions if they could inflict a first league defeat of the season on their neighbours. A draw would result in a play-off with Ballydehob for the Premier Division trophy.

Against that backdrop, Rangers began at a ferocious pace and could have broken the deadlock inside the first minute. Gearoid White met a Barry O’Driscoll (H) cross with a downward header but goalkeeper Stephen Daly managed to divert the attempt away from danger.

In truth, Dunmanway’s defence was under pressure for most of the opening quarter. But the Mohona side saw out a difficult spell and began to stretch their opposing defence. Stephen O’Donovan had the ball in the Drinagh net only for the effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.

Mark Buckley and Cathal Daly gave Barry O’Driscoll (T) and JJ Collins plenty of issues but an entertaining game remained scoreless despite Cathal O’Donovan and Keith Jagoe headers saved at either end.

The remainder of the first half saw Drinagh dominate possession but fail to adequately test Stephen Daly. As for Dunmanway, the hosts defended superbly and used the counter-attack to good effect before the first 45 minutes concluded scoreless.Rangers pressed forward immediately after the restart and should have taken the lead. Stephen Daly denied Keith Jagoe and Barry O’Driscoll (T) in successive attacks before Robbie McQueen shot inches past an upright.

Once again Dunmanway Town’s back four underlined their class with Stephen Keohane and Stephen O’Donovan giving little away and helping their side regain a foothold. Jamie Carroll sent a snap-shot wide and Mark Buckley had a header saved by Rob Oldham as the intensity refused to lessen heading into the final quarter.

Rangers looked the more likely to score as Robbie McQueen watched a deflected shot fly narrowly wide and Tomas Connolly send a header over the crossbar.

Just when it seemed the title might be slipping away, the defending champions conjured up the best move of an engrossing game. Barry O’Driscoll (H) was afforded too much space before sliding the ball into Tomás Connolly’s path. The Drinagh striker flicked the ball over Stephen Daly to edge the Canon Crowley Park in front.

The drama didn’t end there however as a gutsy Dunmanway Town redoubled their efforts and immediately went back up the other end to equalise. Drinagh’s failure to clear a routine centre was punished when Cathal Daly turned and fired into the net.

A pulsating finale saw Stephen Daly deny Gearoid White a winner but the full-time whistle confirmed a play-off between Dunmanway Town and Ballydehob to crown new Premier Division champions.

Dunmanway Town: Stephen Daly, Aidan O’Donovan, Stephen Keohane, Cathal O’Donovan, Stephen O’Donovan (captain), Barry O’Donovan, Jamie Carroll, Cathal Daly, Rhys Coakley, John Healy, Mark Buckley. Subs: Ray Jennings, Cullen Barry, Keith Forbes, Kieran Collins.

Drinagh Rangers: Rob Oldham, JJ Collins, Barry O’Driscoll (T), Daniel McCarthy, Gearoid White, Tomás Connolly, Darren Beamish, Barry O’Driscoll (H) (captain), Shane Connolly, Keith Jagoe, Robbie McQueen. Subs: JJ Hurley, Adrian O’Driscoll, Gavin Beamish, Cillian Murray, Killian Fitzpatrick, Mark Grace.

Referee: Shane O’Neill.

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