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PICTURE SPECIAL: Deadly Danny crowned West Cork’s top young soccer star

February 22nd, 2022 4:23 PM

By Ger McCarthy

2021 Player of the Year winner Danny O’Donovan (Skibbereen AFC) with Declan Deasy, West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League Chairman, at the awards. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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RISING Skibbereen soccer star Danny O’Donovan was crowned the 2021 Southern Star Player of the Year at the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League (WCCSL) awards.

The Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery was the venue for these Player of the Year awards – sponsored by The Southern Star – as the top young soccer players in the region were lauded.

Last held in 2018, the WCCSL awards evening honoured three shortlisted players from the 2021 season’s leagues before announcing winners from each of the U12, U13, U14, U15 and U16 schoolboys and schoolgirls age-grades.

One of the most prestigious awards handed out was the 2021 Southern Star WCSSL Player of the Year trophy. The overall best player, chosen from the evening’s individual schoolboys and schoolgirls’ age-grade winners, was Skibbereen U14’s Danny O’Donovan.

O’Donovan follows in the footsteps of previous Player of the Year winners Dan Andrews (2017, Bantry Bay Rovers) and Peadar O’Rourke (2018, Ardfield).

Talented teen O’Donovan helped Skibbereen claim the 2021 SuperValu U14 Premier League Group 1 title following nine wins and a draw from the Baltimore Road side’s ten league outings. He also topped the scoring charts with 16 goals, four standout (player-of-the-match) ratings and four star player ratings. The newly-crowned Player of the Year winner played an integral role in Skibb’s SuperValu U14 Cup final defeat of Lyre Rovers.

On the night, the WCSSL also took the opportunity to honour last season’s (a half-season due to Covid-19) group winners with glassware, crown Dunmanway Town as the West Cork Club of the Year and announce Kilmichael Rovers’ Tim Sweeney as the Golden Boot winner (top goal-scorer in the region).

The U12 schoolboys’ award went to Joe Twomey from the Lyre Rovers club. Joe O’Donovan (Drinagh Rangers) was runner-up and Eoin O’Connor (Riverside Athletic) was third in an age-grade where Twomey scored nine times as Lyre won the U12 Premier League Group 1 and the U12 Cup.

Drinagh Rangers’ Niamh Daly was a worthy recipient of The Southern Star U12 Schoolgirls’ Player of the Year award, finishing ahead of the shortlisted Aoife Collins (Drinagh) and Niamh Harrington (Castlelack). One of Daly’s season highlights was bagging a brace of goals in Rangers’ SuperValu U12 Shield final defeat of Castlelack.

Jack Browne (Kilmichael Rovers) was awarded the 2021 Southern Star U13 Player of the Year trophy. Joe O’Neill (Bantry Bay Rovers) and Alex Bramoulle (Dunmanway Town) were also shortlisted but Browne’s consistent performances – nine goals, five standout player awards and two star player awards – saw the Inchisine club’s prospect win his age-grade’s top trophy.

The same was true of Skibbereen’s Danny O’Donovan in the U14 schoolboys category. He also took home the overall Southern Star Player of the Year trophy having finished ahead of fellow U14 age-grade shortlisted Jack Hennigan (Lyre Rovers) and Tim Sweeney (Kilmichael).

Togher Celtic’s Brian Horgan was awarded The Southern Star U15 Schoolboys Player of the Year. He finished the 2021 campaign with seven goals, four standout player and three star player awards in a Celtic side that finished runners-up in their group and in the SuperValu U15 Cup. Jack O’Crowley (Clonakilty AFC) and Tom Browne (Kilmichael Rovers) were also shortlisted in the U15 category.

The 2021 Southern Star U15 Schoolgirls Player of the Year trophy went to Drinagh Rangers’ Emma Hurley who finished ahead of second placed Sophie O’Sullivan (Bantry Bay Rovers) and joint-third placed Aoibheann O’Driscoll (Riverside Rebels) and Mia Boucher (Bunratty United). Hurley scored 16 goals, won two standout player and six star player awards during Drinagh’s U15 Schoolgirls League title success.

At U16 level, Oran McCarthy (Drinagh Rangers) took home the Player of the Year trophy after finishing ahead of Tom McQueen (Drinagh) and Adrian Casey (Sullane). McCarthy was an important member of the Drinagh squad that annexed both the 2021 U16 Premier League and Cup titles.

The winners of the 2021 WCSSL Player of the Year Awards – sponsored by The Southern Star – are as follows:

Southern Star WCSSL Player of the Year: Danny O’Donovan (Skibbereen).

Club of the Year: Dunmanway Town.

Golden Boot: Tim Sweeney (Kilmichael Rovers).

Southern Star Players of Year age-grade winners: Joe Twomey (Lyre Rovers, U12 schoolboys), Niamh Daly (Drinagh Rangers, U12 schoolgirls), Jack Browne (Kilmichael Rovers, U13 schoolboys), Danny O’Donovan (Skibbereen U14, schoolboys), Brian Horgan (Togher Celtic, U15 schoolboys), Emma Hurley (Drinagh Rangers, U15 schoolgirls), Oran McCarthy (Drinagh Rangers, U16 schoolboys).

WCSSL Group League winners: Lyre Rovers (U12 Premier Group 1), Dunmanway Town (U12 Premier Group 2), Castlelack (U12 Premier Group 3), Bantry Bay Rovers (U12 Premier Schoolgirls), Dunmanway Town (U13 Premier Group 1), Skibbereen B (U13 Premier Group 2), Castlelack (U13 Premier Group 3), Skibbereen Castlelack (U14 Premier Group 1), Kilmichael Rovers (U14 Premier Group 2), Drinagh Rangers  (U15 Premier Schoolgirls), Kilmichael Rovers (U15 Premier Group 1), Clonakilty AFC (U15 Premier Group 2) and Drinagh Rangers (U16 Premier).

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