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SAFC: Local derby has feel of a ‘knockout tie’- Kelly

October 17th, 2021 8:00 AM

By Ger McCarthy

Johnny Kelly pictured with his siblings Mikey Kelly, Trish Daly & Peter Kelly after receiving his West Cork Sports Star Award. Photo: George Maguire

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DOHENYS captain Johnny Kelly is hoping his club can reach the knockout stages of this year’s Bon Secours Cork Senior A football championship with victory over Bandon this weekend.

The Celtic Ross Hotel / C103fm / Southern Star monthly Sports Star award winner for July 2021 is looking forward to another West Cork derby after Kelly and his team mates recently overcame O’Donovan Rossa 0-17 to 0-11.

Bandon are top of Group A on three points with Ballingeary and Dohenys in joint-second (two points apiece) and fourth-placed O’Donovan Rossa (one point) heading into this weekend’s final round of group games.

Irrespective of the Ballingeary versus Skibbereen result, Dohenys cannot afford to lose or face the prospect of missing out on the knockout stages for the second year in a row.

Naturally, the Dunmanway club is eager to register a second consecutive county championship win. It won’t be easy, as previous games against Ballingeary and Rossa’s have shown, but a young Dohenys panel is ready to grasp their opportunity.

‘It was vitally important to get that win over O’Donovan Rossa,’ Johnny Kelly told The Southern Star.

‘The win was important for the club and everyone involved as we have put in so much work. Coming into the Bandon game, we will wear our hearts on our sleeves and I believe we are in with a good chance of getting out of this group.

‘The new championship format gives every team a chance. You have such a quality mix of clubs playing senior A right now including the ones that have been promoted. That’s all anyone wants, a chance to reach the knockout stages. The format is working very well at the moment and I’d be a big fan of it.’

Bandon and Dohenys are no strangers to one another having clashed in last year’s group stage. Trailing 0-11 to 0-8 in the dying minutes, Mark Buckley kicked four consecutive points and looked to have earned Dohenys an important win. Bandon created one final chance however, and Cian O’Mahony’s injury-time leveller saw the sides draw a cracking game 0-12 apiece.

The lilywhites were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Mallow while three draws from three prevented Dohenys from progressing. Johnny Kelly expects things to be just as tight this time around.

‘This Bandon game definitely has the feel of a knockout tie,’ the Dohenys’ captain admitted.

‘We said the same thing coming into the O’Donovan Rossa game. It is pure knockout football from here on in. Bandon beat us in the semi-finals of this year’s league so we know what we are up against. They are a big, physical side so we will have to come up with a gameplan and hopefully get past them to reach the quarter-finals.

‘Of course, it being a West Cork derby will only add another bit of an edge. Both sets of players will be up for it with ourselves and Bandon living so close to one another. There is that West Cork rivalry but there is already a lot at stake. That only adds to the championship though and will be great for the clubs, spectators and yourselves covering the game. It will be proper championship football.

‘Everything has been so well organised by our manager Declan O’Dwyer and his backroom team this year for us. Dec brought in Alison Hayes as our new strength and conditioning coach, gave each player individual programmes and that’s been huge for us. All the stuff they have been and are still doing behind the scenes has been brilliant for Dohenys football.’

LOTS AT STAKE IN GROUP A

A win for Dohenys over Bandon should be enough to secure progression to the knockout stages. They currently sit on two points meaning a draw or a defeat will spell the end of their championship involvement for this season.

Bandon on the other hand just need to avoid defeat to secure a quarter final spot although it’s unlikely they’ll play for a draw.

For O’Donovan Rossa, the other West Cork side in Group A, a win over Ballingeary could be enough to see them through to the knockout stage depending on results elsewhere. They are currently bottom of the group with one point from two games. A defeat could see them fall into a relegation play-off so there is still plenty to play for for all teams in the group.

Skibb’s opponents on Saturday Ballingeary will guarantee a place in the quarter finals if they can win in Aughaville on Sunday.

Elsewhere in the SAFC the automatic semi-final spot will likely go to one of Mallow, St. Michaels or Knocknagree who all head into the weekend on four points.

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