DRINAGH Rangers’ father and son duo Robert and Ciarán O’Regan combined for a unique moment over the Christmas period.
The West Cork League club posted a tweet displaying an old photo of midfielder Robert O’Regan kneeling in front of yet another trophy. Standing proudly alongside his father is Ciarán O’Regan (aged five or six at the time of the photo) looking every bit as pleased as his dad.
The content of the tweet explained the significance of the photograph: ‘Brilliant win for our juniors this morning, beating Mizen 3-1. Barry O’Driscoll (H), Keith Jagoe and Ciarán O’Regan with the goals. Great occasion to see Rob O’Regan come on in the second half to play midfield with his son Ciarán and lay on the assist for his goal.’
Rangers’ 3-1 St Stephen’s Day victory over Mizen AFC was a welcome boost for a club struggling, by their own high standards, in fifth place in the WCL Premier Division. 17-year-old Ciarán O’Regan netted the third of Rangers’ goals that afternoon, but it was made all the more special because of the individual who provided the assist.
Brilliant win for our juniors this morning beating Mizen 3-1. Barry O’Driscoll (H), Keith Jagoe and Ciaran O’Regan with the goals. Great occasion to see Rob O’Regan come on in the second half to play midfield with his son Ciaran and lay on the assist for his goal.
— Drinagh Rangers AFC (@DrinaghRangers) December 26, 2021
Sprung from the bench, it was Ciarán’s father, Robert, who delivered the pass to set up his son’s strike. Two generations combining for a goal in the WCL’s top tier. A rare event but a special one all the same.
‘That Mizen AFC game was the first time my dad and I played on the same pitch at Premier Division level,’ Ciarán informed The Southern Star.
‘We would have togged out together for the Drinagh Rangers B team in the Championship the season before alright but that Mizen game was our first time together at Premier level.’
‘I was 16 years old when I first started playing at junior (adult) level for Drinagh Rangers and have had some great days with the club but that was a brilliant moment, setting up Ciaran’s goal,’ Robert added.
‘We would have played for the Bs a few times and that was great. To play a Premier Division game with Ciarán and come away with a win was super. Declan (Deasy) and Don (Hurley) were a bit stuck with a lot of the lads away on the day of the Mizen game. They asked if I would tog out so I said I would.
‘I came on for the second half. We were motoring along and then, next thing, I got a rush of blood and pushed forward. I wouldn’t go forward too often now but the ball fell to my left leg. I knew I wouldn’t score with that leg so I saw Ciarán, knew he would definitely have a better chance than me. Luckily enough, he put it away.’
So, what is it like for a son to play on the same pitch as their dad? Is it a case of mutual respect or no holding back when it comes to criticising one another for a mistake?
‘He gives out a bit alright!’ Ciarán laughs.
‘It is more advice than anything else really. Just telling me what to do and how to do it properly. A typical dad really. I don’t remember much about the goal. I just kept going and thought he was going to shoot so said to myself, I’d better be there to pick up the rebound. It was a bit of a shock when he passed it!’
Ciarán is a fifth-year student at Mount St Michael in Rosscarbery. Breaking into a perennial West Cork League trophy-winning squad like Drinagh Rangers is far from easy. That’s why the club’s decision to field a second team in the WCL Championship is so important. Up-and-coming players like Ciarán O’Regan benefit from a full season of competing against adult opposition before making the even bigger step up to the Premier Division. The fact Ciarán and other Rangers U17 and U19 graduates get to play alongside experienced campaigners like his father makes that transition a little bit easier.
‘Playing for the B team in the West Cork League Championship helped a lot,’ Ciarán said.
‘You get to go up against some really strong teams but having so many experienced Drinagh players alongside you, like my dad, is huge. They keep pushing you and wanting you to push on to the next level. That’s what it is all about.
‘It is a big step up. Especially from U19 to the Premier Division. It is a lot more physical and you don’t have as much time on the ball. You have to become quicker. Nearly everyone (you play) is twice the size of a U19 as well so there can be some big hits alright.’