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O’Donovan building Skibb panel with the summer in mind

March 25th, 2023 3:45 PM

By Tom Lyons

O'Donovan Rossa's Darren Daly is held back by Newcestown's Seamus O'Sullivan during the Cork Credit Unions FL Div 2 tie. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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IN his second season in charge of O’Donovan Rossa’s footballers, Gene O’Donovan wants to see his team hit new heights in 2023.

Last year, his first at the helm, he took the Skibbereen team all the way to the county senior A semi-final. The disappointment of being beaten that day by a flying St Michael’s side was tempered when the city side went on to win the title subsequently. 

Although short a couple of that near-successful Rossa team this season, O’Donovan is already building on the work done last season, hoping to go at least a step further in 2023. 

On Sunday, they face Clonakilty in Division 2 of the county football league, in Skibb at 11.30am, and both sides are on three points after their opening two games.

 

It’s another chance for Rossas boss O’Donovan to claim a West Cork scalp, having beaten Newcestown away in the last round of games.

‘In this league we’re trying to improve on the system we introduced to our play last season,’ O’Donovan explained. 

‘It seemed to be working well but then St Michael’s exposed the weaknesses in it and we have to tweak it a bit. We’re focusing on that. We’re noted as nice footballers but we’re trying to get a bit of toughness into them. We need to get rid of those unwelcome tags. Apart from that, the league isn't a priority but if we get a sniff at it we’ll have a good go and give it our best.’ 

There have been a few ins and outs in the squad, too.

‘From last year’s side, Mark Collins is gone, Daniel Hazel is gone but we got Seán Fitzgerald back from America and he’s going to be a huge addition to us. You could see there (against Newcestown) when Paudie Crowley got injured early at centre back, Seán filled in and was a huge steadying influence,’ the Skibb boss explained, as he builds towards the senior A championship in the summer. He is worried that the physicality Rossas will encounter in those games might be a problem for his side. 

‘In our championship we have Kanturk, Fermoy and Knocknagree. It’s a tough group but there’s no easy group,’ he said. 

‘We start against Kanturk in Macroom on June 26th and all our focus will be on that. They’re a big, physical side and we’ll have to deal with that on the day. I thought last year that St Michael’s were well ahead of us in strength and conditioning, as well as being good footballers, and we don’t want that to happen again.’

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