BY DENIS HURLEY
AN impressive 2017 for Dohenys/Sam Maguires attacker Fionn Herlihy was rewarded the week before Christmas when he received the last quarterly West Cork Youth Sports Star Award of the year in the Celtic Ross Hotel.
Sams had a fruitful autumn, with Herlihy to the fore as the underage club won the Rebel Óg West and County MAFC titles, beating Bantry Blues in both finals. Add to that Herlihy’s role in Dohenys’ Carbery U21AFC win in the spring, his appearances with Cork at U17 level and helping Hamilton High School to the Corn Uí Mhuirí knockout stages, and it’s easy to see why he has been honoured.
Herlihy is hopeful of building on that progress in 2018.
‘We did well in the minor,’ he says, ‘maybe we should have been at a higher level but it was great to win.
‘A lot of the players on the age hadn’t won a lot in terms of county titles, so it was good for them to win. A good number of the team would be underage again this year, I’d expect we’ll be playing at premier level.
‘It’ll be a step up, definitely, but it’ll be good to be testing ourselves against the best teams.’
The future is bright for Dohenys, with hopes high that the 2017 U21 team can push on to senior level.
Herlihy was giving away four years to many of his opponents as the club beat Ilen Rovers, Clonakilty and Castlehaven to claim divisional honours for the first time since 2000, the year he was born.
‘It was tough, physically,’ he says.
‘It was great to win it, though. We’d have to liked to have gone further in the county championship but winning the West Cork will hopefully give us confidence for the future.’
The misfortune of his year of birth means that Herlihy misses out on representing Cork at minor level, with the grade changing from U18 to U17. He did play U17 as Cork lost to Kerry in the Munster final last year, and he is also the spearhead of the Hamilton High attack as they chase Munster glory, scoring 2-5 as the Hammies beat Skibbereen CS in their last group game in early December.
He admits that the daily trip from Dunmanway to Bandon can be a ‘bit of a trek’, but the decision to attend the school has paid dividends in GAA terms. A Cork derby against Ballincollig’s Coláiste Choilm awaits in the quarter-final on January 17th.
‘We’ve done well so far,’ Herlihy says.
‘Getting to the knockout stages was a good achievement and we’d love to go further but obviously we can only take one game at a time.
‘A lot of the team got to the B final at U16âevel and that was a good experience, we’re benefiting from that now. Ballincollig will be tough in the quarter-finals but we’ll be just looking to go out and do our best and hopefully move on to the semis.