BY GER McCARTHY
DAN MacEoin is intent on firing Baltimore to West Cork League Division 1 Cup final glory.
The decider against Crookstown was meant to have been played last Sunday – but the entire WCL schedule was washed out and the game has been refixed for March 19th.
Former Cork U21 and current Ilen Rovers star forward MacEoin came through the ranks of Skibbereen AFC’s underage structure, enjoying plenty of West Cork Schoolboys League success before developing into an important member of Baltimore AFC’s team.
Over the past number of years, most of MacEoin’s time has been spent turning out for Ilen Rovers in the county senior football championship. Emerging on to the scene as a talented minor and U21 inter-county forward, MacEoin quickly made a name for himself as a quality inside forward in both local and national GAA circles.
Yet, playing West Cork League football with Baltimore and in the same team as some of his closest friends has proven a welcome distraction from the rigours and demands of attempting to force his way on to inter-county panels.
Now MacEoin and his team-mates have an opportunity to lift some silverware as the Crabs take on Crookstown in an upcoming West Cork League Division 1 Cup final.
‘I’ve been toiling away trying to force my way into the Cork (senior) set-up for the last five years so it’s been a nice distraction to play with Baltimore and reach a cup final now as well,’ MacEoin commented.
‘I played with Skibbereen AFC all the way up through the underage ranks and we were fairly successful too which was great.
‘It was only in the last few years that I got back into playing West Cork League, just as a way of keeping fit during the winter. A lot of Ilen Rovers lads were lining out for Baltimore so I just kind of fell in with them.
‘We never expected to get to a cup final, any cup final really, but enjoyed a great win in the Division 1 Cup semi-finals against local rivals Skibbereen. That set us up for a crack off Crookstown now. It’s nice to be in a final and hopefully we can go on and win it.’
Baltimore are clearly enjoying their football this season and a close-knit squad, not afraid to have a laugh at one another’s expense, is something MacEoin is glad to be a part of. So much so, that the Ilen Rovers GAA forward is more than happy to divulge his opinion when asked about some of the club players’ and manager’s habits.
‘Probably the biggest whinger in the team is our manager Seanie McCarthy,’ MacEoin quipped.
‘He just loves complaining, especially on the team’s WhatsApp group. He is always giving out if any of the players decide to go out with their girlfriends rather than turn up for a match!
‘One of the lads got an awful doing from him lately just because they went away for the weekend with their girlfriend. Sean is gas craic and a very good manager but we do drive him mad.
‘Another member of the squad who really fancies himself as a goal-scorer is Kieran Lynch. He’s a golfer by trade and decided to try and take a free-kick off me in a recent game. Well, Kieran thought he’d put it into the top corner but instead ended up trying to pass the free-kick, got a lucky deflection and Stephen Leonard was there to score a scrappy goal. He’s a great passer but Jesus, nowhere near a goal-scorer.’
Reaching a Division 1 Cup decider represents a nice boost for Baltimore’s residents and supporters of the West Cork League club. A bigger crowd than the usual ‘one man and his dog’ are expected to travel in support of the Crabs, something MacEoin and his fellow squad members are delighted about.
‘It’s gas to hear talk of a bus load of Baltimore supporters coming to the final considering the tiny amount of spectators we usually play in front of,’ the Baltimore striker admitted.
‘It’s a good boost for us and in fairness; the people down the village are always stopping you and asking how you got on. Football is always a topic of conversation when you’re down the village on a Sunday evening so reaching a cup final is something different and attracting lots of interest.
‘I haven’t won a West Cork League medal or had the opportunity to because I haven’t played much over the last number of years. I stopped playing from between the ages of 16 and 21 due to GAA inter-county commitments.
‘This past year has been my first (and only) full season. At times with the GAA, trying to make the panel of whatever team, you are constantly in the gym, constantly striving to be super-fit and you’ve little time for anything else.
‘Playing soccer regularly with Baltimore or even midweek five-a-side astro with the lads has been great because it is far more relaxed and enjoyable. Hopefully, we can do the job in the final against Crookstown and end the season with a trophy.’