BY GER MCCARTHY
THIS weekend’s West Cork League Beamish Cup final offers Drinagh Rangers and Togher Celtic an opportunity to write their names into the history books.
Drinagh will claim an unprecedented three-in-a-row if they come out on top at the Baltimore Road while their opponents can end a 22-year wait for Beamish Cup glory by upsetting the odds.
There is little doubt that Drinagh will kick-off as favourites considering their recent league and cup record. Last season alone, Don Hurley and Declan Deasy guided Rangers to Premier Division, Premier Division Cup, Beamish Cup, Maybury Coaches-Parkway Hotel Cup and Michael Cronin Cup successes. Capping off a remarkable year, Drinagh were also awarded the Southern Star/Celtic Ross/C103 Team of the Year Award.
Not content with that five-trophy haul, Rangers could yet claim a second league and cup double in a row despite a tough path to the 2019 decider. A first round trip to Castletown Celtic required a late winner to edge the result 3-2 after extra-time in Castletownkenneigh.
It was a similar story in round two, where Rangers needed penalties to see off Mizen AFC following a 1-1 draw after extra time.
Spartak Mossgrove travelled to Canon Crowley Park in the quarter-finals where Drinagh required extra time for a third consecutive tie to book their place in the last four after a 4-1 triumph. Local rivals Dunmanway Town pushed an off-colour Drinagh all the way before succumbing to a 2-1 defeat after yet another two periods of extra time.
Togher Celtic’s Beamish Cup odyssey began with a 2-0 victory away to Clonakilty before knocking Castlelack out of the competition 3-1 at Laragh Industrial Estate. Celtic produced one of their best displays of the season in overcoming title-chasing Ballydehob 3-1 in the quarter-finals.
A disappointing semi-final with Mizen AFC was decided by a solitary Johnny Kelly strike deep into extra-time setting up Togher for another meeting with rivals Drinagh Rangers.
Both Premier Division encounters between the two cup finalists ended 1-1 earlier in the season although Drinagh did register a 2-0 Maybury Coaches-Parkway Hotel Cup semi-final victory over Togher at the end of March.
Form tends to go out the window when these two clubs face one another and it is hardly surprising as they know one another so well. Hopes are high that two committed teams will serve up an entertaining final but expect defences to play a prominent role in what could be a low-scoring and tense encounter.
Verdict: It’s hard to look beyond a Drinagh Rangers victory considering the Canon Crowley Park side’s dominance of West Cork League football over the past three seasons. Togher are more than capable of causing an upset but Rangers’ greater attacking threat coupled with the cup holders current form suggests a three-in-a-row celebration in Drinagh next Sunday night.