BY GER McCARTHY
INNISHVILLA AFC caused a huge shock in overcoming Park United to win the 2017 Cork AUL AOH Cup at Turner’s Cross.
The winning squad brought the AOH Cup to the club’s academy training session earlier in the week where over 80 local Innishannon children were able to share in the celebrations of Innishvilla’s historic achievement.
Putting into context just how important winning the AUL’s most prestigious trophy is difficult but something manager DJ O’Driscoll is immensely proud of and hopes the club will build on.
‘For us, winning the AOH Cup is a bit like winning the Champions League to be honest with you’, O’Driscoll said.
‘Over the years, our club has won the Presidents Cup, County Cup and various other competitions in the lower divisions but this is the trophy that every junior club in Cork wants to win. It is the blue ribbon competition of AUL football.’
A marvellous 68th minute Jack Walsh goal won it 1-0 for Innishvilla at the expense of favourites Park United who were looking for a third AOH Cup success and remain the most dominant and successful Cork AUL team in recent years. Apart from Walsh’s wonder-strike, DJ O’Driscoll believes Innishvilla’s attitude and workrate were the traits that helped secure the AOH Cup.
‘I think our never-say-die attitude is what got us over the line in the end,’ the Innishvilla manager admitted.
‘I’ve watched Park United a number of times this year and have huge respect for that club. They came at us from the opening minute but we closed them down throughout the first half and restricted them to a couple of half chances.
‘It was important to stifle Park for that opening half hour as it allowed us to play our way into the game. We produced some excellent football at times, moved the ball quickly and felt that more and more chances would come our way as the game went on. So it proved and Jack (Walsh) took his opportunity brilliantly. That goal was priceless in the end.’
Looking ahead, DJ O’Driscoll is anxious the bulk of his cup-winning squad will return to action once again next season where Innishvilla will face a new kind of pressure having etched their names in the Cork AUL history books as AOH Cup winners.
‘We understand that winning the AOH Cup means we are now a team other clubs will want to beat next season but that’s a welcome pressure and that’s football,’ O’Driscoll commented.
‘While we have no divine right to success, the introduction of a few of our younger players should help us keep the momentum going and hopefully bring further success to our club and parish.’