SHANE Patterson sees no reason why Randal Óg can’t cause a few shocks in junior A football this year.
Last season was a dream year for Randals as the club won two county junior B football titles (including the club’s first-ever county title), as well as the Carbery junior B crown. Their reward is a deserved spot in the junior A football ranks in 2022.
It’s the first time in over 40 years that Randals have competed at this level – but Patterson believes they will hold their own against the established junior A teams in Carbery.
‘I’d be hoping that the momentum that we built (in 2021) will feed into 2022,’ he said.
‘There is no reason we should be fearing these teams. We will look at it as a positive. Especially when our team is so young, testing ourselves against the best in West Cork will only improve this team further as the year goes on.’
One of the more experienced members of the Randal Óg set-up, dual player Patterson believes the future for the club is very bright. Last season’s county junior B football double could be the catalyst for more success in the future, he feels. The club’s junior hurling team – and there are 12 players who play on both sides – came up just short in the 2021 county junior B hurling final and want to go one step further this season. Is there more to come from Randal Óg?
‘I would think so. Look at the age profile, and take me out of it, the next down is Barry O’Driscoll in his early 30s and the average age then is 23 or 24. These guys are going to college and hopefully they will get jobs in Cork county over the next few years and that they will keep playing for the club,’ said Patterson, who was able to reflect on Randals’ incredible 2021 exploits over the Christmas period. Between football and hurling they played an energy-sapping 28 games in 29 weeks across eight different competitions, and they finished the season with three trophies and promotion to junior A.
‘It will probably never be matched again so we’re delighted to have been a part of it,’ Patterson said, and it’s a season that will live long in the memory of everyone in Ballinacarriga. This was a community effort, too, with so many different strands pulling together.
One of the memories that stands out for Patterson came long after the final whistle in the Bon Secours 2021 Junior B football divisional final win against Dripsey at Páirc Uí Rinn on December 17th; that’s the triumph that secured the double. Around 10pm that Friday night, on the footpath outside the stadium, Randals’ history-making players feasted on soup and sandwiches. For Patterson that epitomises what makes this club so special.
‘The club had gone to great lengths to have soup and sandwiches for the players. It was a really nice gesture and it shows the community spirit that is there,’ he said.
‘We are a small club, one of the smallest in the Carbery division. We don’t have a huge pick of players and likewise we don’t have a huge pick of voluntary people either but whoever can get involved will get involved. It’s all the way from the people involved in the administrative side to all the people involved in the teams, it’s everyone who helps out in their own way.
‘We are only a crossroads, really. We have a school, we have a church, we have the local creamery and we have the club – and the club is hugely important to what we do. When we are winning and the team is doing well, more and more people come to the matches. There are people that have moved away but those people start coming to matches; my own brother who is living in Limerick came down to the matches. Other guys who are living in Galway came down to the matches. Seeing them coming back was great to see.’
Hopefully there will be even more Randal Óg supporters at games this season, as the footballers strut their stuff at junior A and the hurlers’ redouble their efforts to win promotion from junior B. Like Patterson says, Randal Óg are not finished yet.