Ilen Rovers’ patchy league form is not unduly worrying manager Edward Sheehy ahead of their local derby against Carbery in the Cork SFC first round on Sunday afternoon (2.15pm).
BY GER McCARTHY
ILEN Rovers’ patchy league form is not unduly worrying manager Edward Sheehy ahead of their local derby against Carbery in the Cork SFC first round on Sunday afternoon (2.15pm).
Ilen’s form heading into Sunday’s tie makes far from pleasant reading. The defending Carbery U21 football champions have already exited this year’s competition while the senior squad has struggled in the Rochestown Park Hotel Division 1 League.
A 2-7 to 0-11 West Cork U21 quarter-final reversal to Dohenys was disappointing considering Ilen went all the way to the 2016 county decider and have also missed out on an opportunity to return to the revamped (U21 county) championship.
Rovers’ solitary senior league victory from their six encounters came at home to Beal Áthan Ghaorthaidh at the end of March. Yet, five losses have the Baltimore-Rath club propping up the table alongside Castlehaven and Mallow despite decent displays during narrow defeats to Clonakilty, Ballincollig, Carbery Rangers and the Haven.
‘I’d have to say that our preparations have been quite good,’ said Ilen Rovers manager Edward Sheehy.
‘The lads have been training really well and while I’d admit our league position isn’t great, we have still been performing fairly well in most of the games. It has been a case of focussing on performances rather than results since the start of the year.
‘It’s also important to point out that we’ve failed to get our full team out on the pitch together at any stage so far this year. Hopefully, we’ll be close to full strength on Sunday and that should be a big help.’
Ahead of Sunday’s double-header in Castlehaven, Ilen know they face a tough task in overcoming a Carbery divisional side under the tutelage of Gene O’Driscoll once again this year.
In 2016, Rovers were hammered in their preliminary round opener by an Avondhu side that went all the way to the semi-finals. Ilen rebounded in style, however, outscoring fellow West Cork rivals Dohenys 4-12 to 3-9 and racking up a further 3-8 in their third round defeat of Carrigaline. Castlehaven ended Rovers’ interest in the competition following a three-point win in Aughaville but hopes are high of another productive campaign.
Much will depend on the quality of service to (if available) a potent forward line spearheaded by Dan MacEoin, Kevin O’Sullivan and Stephen Leonard.
‘We are expecting nothing less than a tough challenge from a Carbery team including many inter-county players,’ admitted Edward Sheehy.
‘There is no doubt about it but Ilen will have to be at our best because they (Carbery) will be able to field 15 to 20 quality players. Thankfully, we have a lot of young fellas coming through, a lot of talent there and the necessary commitment too.
‘We also have a core group of older players so there is a nice blend of youth and experience within our squad and we will certainly need them. Ilen Rovers are just going to go out and do everything we can to try and get the win. Hopefully, if we can produce a good performance, we will have a chance of winning the game.’