MENTAL health is at the centre of fledgling West Cork League club Clonakilty United’s ethos as they make positive headlines on and off the pitch.
Start-up football clubs in Clonakilty are not a new phenomenon. There have been plenty of incarnations throughout the town’s West Cork League history.
This season, Premier Division title-chasers Clonakilty Soccer Club have been joined by new Championship League outfit Clonakilty United.
‘It is about seven months ago that the club was formally created but the idea had been brewing over the summer,’ Clonakilty United manager Craig McDermott told The Southern Star.
‘There are two main reasons why the club was formed. Firstly, pre-coronavirus, I noticed that only three of our now 30 first-team-registered players were still actively playing having just come out of youths soccer.
‘There was an abundance of local talent there so I knew I had to get a new team going. I knew what they were capable of.
‘The second reason was to do with our club’s main motto that football would help us physically and mentally.
‘We are a very young squad so something positive like a game of West Cork League football would help improve everyone’s mental and physical health. A good few players on our team struggled with their mental health after Covid.
‘Clonakilty United football club has become a positive thing to have in their lives.’
West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League club Clonakilty AFC kindly agreed to allow United use one of their youths teams’ Ballyvackey playing pitches as well as lending an old kit until a new set was designed and delivered.
Encouragingly, local sponsors also rallied around. O’Donovan’s Hotel, Clonakilty, Craft and Co. public house, Side Street Barbers and The Menu Cakery (Cork) have been joined by main shirt sponsors Movember in helping the new club get off the ground.
‘Our club’s age profile is quite young,’ McDermott added.
‘Our secretary David Hegarty is 21. Our treasurer Dan O’Donovan is also 21. The club’s social media manager Jake Ellis is 24. My main responsibility, at the age of 21, is managing the team but we all share the workload. It is a team effort to run and manage the club each week.
‘We are grateful to all our sponsors but our main one, Movember, was something very important to us. Before we had a club name, a pitch or even a set of jerseys sorted, we had gotten in contact with the Movember charity fundraising movement.
‘Movember’s goal is to change the face of men’s health so we are delighted to have their moustache logo on our club’s jerseys.’
It has not just been United’s eye-catching pink and black club crest or home kit that has made the West Cork League newcomers stand out.
The club’s use of social media, particularly its Twitter account @ClonakiltyUTD, is setting a new standard for other West Cork League clubs to follow.
Credit to United’s social media guru Jake Ellis for producing professional graphics and animations that have helped draw attention to Clon’s fixtures and results.
‘The lads love seeing their names pop up on our social media posts every week, especially on the goalscorers list!’ Craig McDermott said.
‘The Twitter account is becoming like an archive of our memories and results. Jake Ellis offered his services and has done an amazing job with our social media presence. Jake might be our signing of the season!’
On the pitch, a young Clonakilty United squad with an average age of 21 has delivered consistent results.
Currently positioned fourth, United has a decent chance of pushing Beara United, Drinagh Rangers B, Sullane and leaders Baltimore for a promotion berth to the Premier Division before season’s end.
Jamie and Dean Harte created history by scoring the fledgling club’s first ever Beamish Cup goals last weekend. Sunday’s 2-1 Beamish Cup preliminary round victory away to WCL Championship leaders Baltimore underlined Town’s talent and promotion credentials.
Clonakilty United is a young, vibrant club with a positive outlook and future.