ILEN Rovers are quietly confident of causing an upset when they take on local rivals Castlehaven in the Cork SFC this Saturday night in Aughaville, at 7pm.
Very few outside of the Ilen camp expect Rovers to knock Castlehaven out, and that’s a position that suits Dominic Casey’s team heading into this winner-take-all encounter.
‘We are up against one of the top sides in the county and we’ve been struggling over the last few years at senior level, so it’s an enormous step up – but we feel we can, at the very least, challenge Castlehaven,’ he said.
‘If our form is right and if we catch them on the night, then we have the players and the belief to get the right result.’
Ilen have recovered well from a disastrous start to their championship campaign when they were thumped 4-16 to 0-6 by Avondhu in a round one game back in May.
Since then, they’re regrouped and wins over Dohenys (4-12 to 3-9) and Carrigaline (3-8 to 0-9) have seen them get back on track, and rack up the goals as well.
Kevin O’Sullivan scored 3-6 against Dohenys and 1-3 against Carrigaline, while Dan MacEoin also weighed in with 1-3 in the last game, a round three tie against the South East club.
‘We have shown good form in those two championship games. There were a lot of questions asked of us in both games and some of our older lads – Alan Holland, Conor O’Driscoll, David Coughlan and Kevin O’Sullivan – came up trumps,’ Casey said.
‘In the game against Carrigaline, I thought our U21s were crucial to us winning, notably Sean O’Donovan, the Bushe brothers, Stephen Leonard when he came on, Alex Hassett, Sean Minihane, they all made big contributions and they all played well.
‘There is a team developing there, we have talent and we need to channel it in the right way and hopefully pull out a performance on Saturday night.’
Ilen will plan without Cian O’Driscoll, who came on as a sub in the last game against Carrigaline, as he is currently at the Olympic Games in Rio, while there’s a slight doubt about Sean Minihane, who picked up a knock in the county U21A defeat to St Finbarr’s last Saturday night.
One of Dominic Casey’s big jobs this week is to raise the spirits of the U21s involved in last weekend’s disappointing county final loss, and he feels that they should take huge pride from their campaign that saw them win the West Cork title and reach Ilen’s first county final at this grade.
‘It’s going to be difficult. Obviously, it was disappointing to lose, but they can take great pride from what they achieved, being the first U21 team from the club to reach a county U21 A final; that was an historic achievement. The U21s have had a great year and I know it’s a tight turnaround, but I think they’ll have their heads right and they’ll come up to mark on Saturday night,’ Casey said.
As for the derby element of Saturday’s encounter, a game that will create lots of interest even for neutrals in West Cork, Casey is backing his charges to be the talk of the town on Saturday night.
‘When we have played Castlehaven, it’s always a good local derby with nothing much in it and that will be the case again on Saturday night. Locals and players alike look forward to a game like this and we feel we are in the right frame of mind for it,’ he added.