DOHENYS could feel the brunt of an Ilen Rovers backlash this weekend, as two West Cork clubs that disappointed in the opening round of the county SFC put their championship hopes on the line.
Ilen were thumped 4-16 to 0-6 by Avondhu in round one, while Dohenys slipped to a 0-14 to 1-6 loss to Douglas, resulting in both teams now meeting in Round 2B this Saturday at Aughaville (7.30pm).
The winner will advance to the third round of the Cork SFC and re-join the race for the big prize, while the loser will then, depending on what club teams are left, play off against the other club teams that lost in Round 2B, to leave the bottom two.
Clubs who finish in this bottom two in two consecutive years or in two out of three years will be relegated from the Cork SFC, so both Ilen and Dohenys will want to avoid being involved in that scenario.
That there is no relegation this season will serve as a relief to all clubs, especially an understrength Dohenys who are going through a tough time at the moment, having lost players to emigration, retirement and injury.
Ahead of the opening round loss to Douglas, Dohenys were without the Collins’ twins, David and Tom (Australia), Johnny Kelly, Pat Collins (San Francisco), Denis Healy and Timmy O’Donovan (retired) and Aidan O’Donovan (injured), and their plight hasn’t improved.
Goalkeeper Darren Kelly will miss Sunday’s game with a groin injury, Maurice Murphy and Jack O’Connell, who both started against Douglas, are gone for the summer, while centre back Donal Rice won’t be available for the Ilen game either.
‘These are testing times for us, alright, there’s no getting away from that. It happens in cycles. We contested a county final in ’76 but by the mid-80s we were down playing junior football before we came good again,’ forward Daniel O’Donovan said.
‘We haven’t played any league games since we lost to Douglas so we just trained away. We’ve lost a lot of players so we have absolutely no other choice but to blood young fellas.
‘It’s a relief that there is no relegation this year, to be honest.’
Ilen have their own injury concerns as both Stephen Leonard and Donal Collins are ruled out of Sunday’s game, while there were injury concerns about Tim O’Regan and Alan Holland. On the plus side, Daniel O’Driscoll and Tom Bushe both played for Ilen’s U21s in their county quarter-final win against Fermoy last weekend.
‘We are looking for a response on Sunday after what happened against Avondhu. We need that,’ Ilen manager Dominic Casey said.
‘It was a disappointing performance and we just never got going. We didn’t play anywhere near where we are capable of, and that was disappointing. You can make excuses and point to injuries but you have to perform on the day and we didn’t, so we know we have to do a lot better.
‘If we can perform well on Sunday evening, it will help us get over the Avondhu game and get us back on the right road again.
‘In training the lads have been working very hard and in certain areas, and there’s been a response in training by the lads.
‘It will be a tough battle, it always is with Dohenys, nothing will be easy, but we will look to perform and play to somewhere near our potential.’