DRINAGH Rangers outlasted Dunmanway Town to lift the 2020 West Cork League PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division title following an absorbing year-long battle.
The Canon Crowley Park club avenged a 2-1 loss to Dunmanway from earlier in the season and repeated the score-line to finish ahead of their arch rivals. A Robbie McQueen brace was enough to see off the defending champions who had Barry O’Donovan on the score-sheet at the conclusion of a cracking contest in Mohona.
‘Dunmanway Town are a superb team and put it up to us the entire season,’ noted Drinagh co-manager Don Hurley.
‘We are delighted to have finished top of the table at the end of what’s been a very long and tough year. Getting a team out every week proved challenging for us and every other club but I suppose our consistency is what won us the league in the end.’
Refreshingly, Drinagh’s co-managers Declan Deasy and Don Hurley are beginning to benefit from a stream of underage talent graduating from the Canon Crowley Park club’s youth academy.
Seventeen-year-old Robbie McQueen wrote his name into the history books by scoring the two goals that cemented Drinagh’s Premier Division title success last Sunday. McQueen is just one of what Deasy and Hurley hope will be many youth graduates to emerge over the coming years.
‘It is brilliant to have a 17-year-old score two goals in the biggest game of the season,’ Hurley said of Robbie McQueen.
‘To score a free-kick of such quality was one thing. Then Robbie had the audacity to chip the goalkeeper two minutes into injury time, when we were down to ten men, and under severe pressure.
‘Robbie’s progress to the first team reflects all the dedicated work being carried out by Drinagh Rangers’ underage coaches within our academy. We have a good mixture in the junior squad right now and a core group of players who have been there for the last 15 years. They are driven individuals and make Declan’s and my life easy because they want to keep going as long as they can. The fact they are such good footballers is reflected in the number of trophies they have won on behalf of the club.’
In contrast, what looked like being another marathon Premier Division title-winning season saw Dunmanway Town come up short in the final sprint.
The loss of Mark Buckley and Aidan O’Donovan for their final and most important outing was keenly felt. Creditably, the players who were available, helped Town take Drinagh to the absolute limit before losing 2-1.
‘Our team were fantastic not just last Sunday but throughout the entire season,’ Dunmanway Town manager Andrew Healy stated.
‘The title was there for us to win but we just couldn’t get the job done in the final game. Mark and Aidan were huge losses as they have been so consistent for us all year.
Things just didn’t go our way on the day but look, we will just have to take this one on the chin.
‘We have to pick ourselves up for next Sunday’s Beamish Cup semi-final with Spartak Mossgrove. Yet, again, there is a clash with a county GAA senior football championship match involving our players on the same day.
It is the same for Spartak but the overlap with other codes in the middle of a pandemic is making life really difficult. Yet, we are looking forward to it and it would be brilliant for this Dunmanway group of players to reach a Beamish Cup final.’
Drinagh Rangers: Rob Oldham, Shane Connolly, Donal O’Donovan, JJ Collins, Barry O’Driscoll (T), Robbie McQueen Robert O’Regan, Gearoid White, Keith Jagoe, Barry O’Driscoll (H), Tomás Connolly (captain). Subs: Adrian O’Driscoll, Cillian Fitzpatrick, Daniel McCarthy and Sean Calnan.
Dunmanway Town: Stephen Daly, Ray Jennings, Stephen O’Donovan (captain), Pa McCarthy, Aaron O’Donovan, Rory Baggot, Cullen Barry, Barry O’Donovan, Cathal Daly, Rhys Coakley, Johnny Kelly. Subs: Alan Crowley, Declan Dwyer, Cian Collins, Darragh Kelly and David Ring.
Referee: Paul McDermott.