BY DENIS HURLEY
FOUR defeats from four games see Dohenys currently propping up Division 2 of the County Football League as they seek to replace players absent through injuries, retirements and emigration.
One by-product of the lack of senior manpower, though, is that U21 players have been pressed into action and that has given them game-time ahead of Sunday’s Clóna Milk Carbery U21 A FC semi-final with Newcestown in Enniskeane (3pm).
Having beaten O’Donovan Rossa in the quarter-finals, the Dunmanway outfit must plan without London-based John Kelly for this clash but selector Mark Farr feels that more of his charges have benefited from the senior exposure.
‘We’ve lost a lot from the senior team, so the U21s have had to step up,’ he says.
‘It has been tough, definitely, but it has given them good experience at the same time. We have a young team with a lot of minor players, only Alan O’Driscoll is up to the age for U21 this year, so giving them that kind of experience is very valuable.’
A 1-9 to 2-5 win saw off Rossas in the last eight, but it should have been a more straightforward win, in Farr’s view.
‘We were well on top against Skibb but then we let them back into the game and we were nearly punished,’ he says.
‘There were a few silly mistakes made and we have to cut out that kind of thing, especially against Newcestown. They’re a strong team, all good footballers and they’ll pounce on any kind of errors.’
Newcestown, who ran champions Clonakilty closest in their campaign last year, will be the favourites, Farr accepts.
‘The main thing is to learn from previous mistakes and to put in a good display,’ he says.
‘We’ll give it a good rattle and hopefully the players will play to the best of their capabilities. If they all do the best that they can then we can’t ask for any more than that.’
Newcestown are coming off the back of an impressive 2-11 to 1-10 win against Castlehaven in the quarter-final, and they will be fancied to advance this Sunday – but selector Seamus O’Sullivan isn’t buying into the theory that they are on a collision course with Clonakilty.
‘Our battles with Dohenys over the years have always been tight and it will be the same again this weekend. There is never anything between the teams and it’s a match that could go either way,’ he said.
Newcestown are sweating over the fitness of both Greg Murphy (calf injury) and attacker Cian Healy, but O’Sullivan is confident that both will recover in time for Sunday’s game.
With Cork U21 defender Micheál McSweeney, Greg Murphy, Trevor Horgan, Sean O’Donovan, Luke Meade and Colm Dinneen back-boning this team, the win against Castlehaven wasn’t so surprising.
‘We know we have a good team and the win against Castlehaven was just the boost the football side of the club needed. We’re a dual club, and after all the hurling success recently, it was great for the football side to get a big win like that – but we need to build on that now and try to go a step further than we have in recent years,’ O’Sullivan added.