BY GER McCARTHY
ILEN Rovers head into their Cork senior foorball championship first round West Cork derby against old rivals Carbery Rangers as underdogs but hoping to cause an upset.
Rovers’ management team of Flor O’Driscoll and Brendan Duggan face a daunting challenge in coming up with a plan to upset one of the most consistent clubs in the Cork SFC over the past number of years.
Last season, Ilen lost to Ballincollig and Carrigaline before winning a relegation playoff against Aghada. This year, a more experienced if still relatively young panel are not favoured to oust the 2018 county semi-finalists in a game expected to attract a large attendance to Castlehaven’s GAA grounds.
‘It is the first day out in the championship this year and everyone just wants to get going,’ Ilen Rovers’ Sean O’Donovan commented to The Southern Star. ‘We want to lay down a marker and have something to build on. We are under absolutely no illusions as Rosscarbery are a top, top team. They will be challenging for the county, no doubt about it.
‘It is just about us getting things right on the day. We have plenty of talented players including the likes of Conor O’Driscoll who was with Cork in 2010. There is a good balance there with all the younger players that have come through and an experienced player like Kevin O’Sullivan as well.
‘Probably our biggest challenge will be staying solid defensively against Carbery Rangers’ attack. They have the two Hayeses, John and Seamus, and John O’Rourke as well. They know what they are about. We will come in with a plan of our own. We are lively going forward as well and will cause them a bit of trouble on the day.’
Ilen currently ply their trade in Division 3, but have made a positive start by registering two wins from three outings to remain within touching distance of the league leaders. Their opponents have won three games out of five in Division 1, but are still looking to hit top gear ahead of what could be a high-scoring first round championship contest.
‘Being underdogs definitely suits us,’ Sean O’Donovan noted.
‘We know all about Carbery Rangers. They are there, year in and year out, and probably one of the most consistent teams in the county. From our point of view, we are a very young team and been building the last couple of years.
‘Ilen has won two of the last three West Cork U21 A football championships and reached an U21 county final. We will be well prepared and just go out on the day to give it our best shot.’
‘Training is going well and everyone is chomping at the bit with the ground firming up. No doubt Castlehaven’s pitch will be in good condition and all we (Ilen) want to do is go out and give a good account of ourselves.’