O’DONOVAN Rossa’s return to the West Cork U21A grade begins with a quarter-final against Dohenys this Saturday (March 5th) in Aughaville, at 4pm.
The Skibbereen team competed at ‘B’ level last season where they lost the semi-final (0-15 to 1-10) to eventual champions Kilmeen, but the Rossas have stepped back up to the ‘A’ championship this season. Manager Diarmuid Lucey explains why.
‘We have a lot of very good young promising players coming up so we feel by playing in the higher grade will help develop them. There was some debate as whether we should be ‘A’ or ‘B’ but if you’re a senior club, you have to try and develop your players at the highest level available to them,’ Lucey said.
The Rossas can call on a number of youngsters who played senior football last season, including both Dylan Hourihane and Sean Fitzgerald who came on as subs in the Cork SFC semi-final loss to Castlehaven last October, while Owen Collins, Paul Minihane, Jack Breen and Colm Fitzgerald all gained senior experience last year.
Adrian Crostan is Skibbereen’s captain and is one of two players in their last year as an U21, along with Cillian Newman. Minors Jack Cowap and Dylan O’Donovan are two to watch this season for a team that has benefitted greatly from the fitness training of trainer Jonathan Davis.
As for this weekend’s challenge, Lucey said: ‘Dohenys are always strong and always very committed so it’s a big ask for us to beat them.’
For Dohenys, who are without a title at this grade since 2000, they will rely on two players involved in the Cork U21 setup, Eoin Lavers and Sean Daly, while Cork minor Mark Buckley is another to keep an eye on.
The Dunmanway side, who lost their quarter-final to Ilen Rovers by four points last season, will be without Johnny Kelly who is now in London, and will also be missing Jamie Carroll (shoulder injury).
This is a young Dohenys side with, according to team selector Mark Farr, no player on the U21 age.
Aidan O’Donovan and Tom Murphy, who have experience with Dohenys’ junior side, are two more to keep an eye on.
As for the test against Skibb this Saturday, Farr said: ‘There’s not much between the teams and I expect it will be a fairly close game. We need to make sure we start well and find our feet fast. We’ve a young team.’