Fresh approach helping Skibb footballers realise their potential, insists boss Gene O’Donovan

September 3rd, 2022 4:00 PM

By Matthew Hurley

Newmarket's Kevin O'Sullivan tries to hold back O'Donovan Rossa's Dylan Hourihane during their Bon Secours Cork SAFC opener at Macroom. Skibb won 3-16 to 1-10.

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WIN on Saturday evening and O’Donovan Rossa will go straight into the semi-finals of the Cork Senior A Football Championship.

That’s the carrot dangling in front of Gene O’Donovan’s men.

The Skibb side is one of only two teams in the SAFC to have a 100 percent record in the competition this season. St Michael’s in Group C are the other one.

Skibb play second-placed Clyda Rovers in Group A this Saturday (7pm in Coachford) knowing that the top group winners qualify for the semi-finals, so the West Cork side is in a good position right now.

‘It would be nice to keep the winning run going,’ manager O’Donovan said, knowing they are already guaranteed a quarter-final spot ahead of the final group game.

‘We have the hard work done in getting to the quarter-final, but one thing we can’t afford though is complacency. Clyda are aiming to go through to a semi-final too and they aren’t going to back off either.’

It’s so far, so good this season for Skibb and O’Donovan, in his first year in charge. Last season the team didn’t get out of their group, but they have responded well this year.

‘I’m pleased with the turnaround as much as the results from where the boys were last year. It’s the same group of lads with a few additions of younger lads. Their mental attitude is different as far as I can see,’ said O’Donovan.

So far, the Skibbereen outfit have beaten Newmarket (3-16 to 1-10) and rivals Ilen Rovers (2-16 to 1-9). Clyda is next on the Skibb hit-list.

‘The big change in this group is that they are genuinely taking it one game at a time. They’re not even looking beyond the next training session,’ the Rossa boss said.

‘Their feet are on the ground, they want success, but they know the way to go is one step at a time.

With an impressive scoring total of 5-32, the West Cork side are the top scorers in this season’s Senior A football championship.

‘Even at training, we said that the 3-16 and the 2-16 didn't happen by accident, it happened by design,’ the Skibb manager explained.

‘The first thing you’d look at in a championship is to see what sort of scoring we will need to beat most teams in this championship. You target that in every game.’

They have had nine different scorers in the two games. Kevin Davis, Donal Óg Hodnett, David Shannon and Thomas Hegarty have all weighed in with scores.

‘We had eight scorers against Ilen Rovers, who are normally a defensive team, so that was very pleasing. Not everyone in the forward line was firing that day, so scores are coming from everywhere,’ said O’Donovan.

‘We pride ourselves on possession too. If you have enough of the ball and create the right space, you’re going to get scores. Our target is always to score enough to beat the opposition.’

The results don’t lie to date. Two good wins has put Skibb in pole position, but they must finish the group stages in the right way on Saturday. That’s their aim.

‘We focus on ourselves,’ O’Donovan said. ‘One of the tips I was given when taking over this team was that they had a habit of focusing too much on the opposition. Yes we know who Clyda’s dangermen are, we’re not silly. I think focusing on ourselves has been a massive help to get where we are at the moment.’

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