TWO former graduates of the West Cork Schoolboys League will be in opposition this Friday night when Cork City kick off their Premier Division campaign at home to newly-promoted Shelbourne at Turner’s Cross.
In fact, current Cork City defender Ronan Hurley and Shelbourne winger Denzil Fernandes are also former team-mates, as they lined out together with Cork City U19s a couple of years ago.
They played a few games together with City U19s in 2016 and then got a full year together in 2017, a season that saw City in action in the UEFA Youth Champions League and play against Italian giants Roma.
While Schull soccer star Hurley (20) has remained at City and progressed to the first team, Fernandes (21) left the club in 2018 to join Cobh Ramblers before Shelbourne signed the Drimoleague man last summer.
Both men will fly the West Cork flag in the Premier Division this season, with Hurley having come through the schoolboys’ ranks at Bunratty United where he won an U14 WCSL league and cup double, while Fernandes lit up pitches across West Cork with Drinagh Rangers’ underage sides.
The highly-rated Hurley signed a new deal with City last November after the left back’s performances were one of the few positives in a bleak campaign for the club.
‘Ronan was a stand-out performer last season and cemented his place in the team,’ City boss Neale Fenn commented, and Hurley will be eager to make that left-back spot his own again in the season ahead.
Fernandes, meanwhile, is keen to hit the ground running with Shels, who he helped win the First Division title last season, and he can’t wait to test himself in the Premier Division.
Speaking to The Southern Star late last year, he said: ‘It’s essential for me to be playing Premier Division football at this stage of my career because I’m improving all the time and trying to play to the best of my ability at a consistent level.’
They’re two of West Cork’s top talents, they’ll strut their stuff in the Premier Division this season and they’ve both shown that there is a path from West Cork to the highest level in Ireland.