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Last-minute Cronin penalty means Premier Division race still up in the air

Monday, 15th April, 2019 10:00pm
Last-minute Cronin penalty means Premier Division race still up in the air

The Ballydehob side that drew 1-1 with Drinagh Rangers in the West Cork League PremierHoSpecCars.com Premier Division in Canon Crowley Park.

Drinagh Rangers 1

Ballydehob 1

 

BY GER MCCARTHY

 

THE destination of this season’s West Cork League PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division title remains undecided despite Mark Cronin’s last-minute penalty earning Ballydehob a draw away to Drinagh Rangers.

Ballydehob travelled to Canon Crowley Park for their final league fixture of the season last Sunday. A win was essential for the Rathravane club’s title hopes, considering their opponents still had a game in hand.

What transpired was another full-blooded, hard-fought encounter between two of the West Cork League’s heavyweights. Barry O’Driscoll (H) capitalised on a defensive error to hand Rangers the lead only for a last-minute Mark Cronin penalty to make it 1-1 with the last kick of the game.

That result saw Ballydehob move into first place, a point ahead of Drinagh and four ahead of Dunmanway Town. The latter travel to Bunratty United team on April 21st before the final Premier Division game of the season takes place in Mohona between Dunmanway and Drinagh on April 28th.

In terms of the title race, it is advantage Dunmanway as Town know that two wins from their final two outings will secure the trophy. Defending champions Drinagh will have plenty to say about that once they complete next Sunday’s Beamish Cup final assignment against Togher Celtic.

As for Ballydehob, a club transformed from relegation candidates to Premier Division trophy candidates in one short season deserve huge praise. Yet, manager Mike Helen believes an opportunity to inflict a first defeat of the season on Drinagh was missed.

‘Although I am very disappointed, I am extremely proud of all my players, warriors who never gave up’ the Ballydehob manager told The Southern Star.

‘I’d have to say that looking back over the season, we never got the rub of the green we needed and major decisions went against us but I guess you have to just take those on the chin.

‘We knew we were up against it travelling to Drinagh. They are the champions and won five trophies last year. You have to remember that they have only lost once in Canon Crowley Park since 2012. Ballydehob are the only team to beat Drinagh in three seasons.

‘We travelled over there to beat them and played really well for long stretches but lacked that killer instinct. Yes, we have improved the club immeasurably over the last 12 months but I’m all about winning trophies and a league title is what we wanted. If we don’t win it then I’d see that as a failure.

‘I cannot fault the squad and owe a special debt of gratitude to Paddy O’Donovan and Michael Leonard for all their time and effort in managing the team with me.’

 

Drinagh Rangers: Rob Oldham, Daniel McCarthy, JJ Hurley, Barry O’Driscoll (T), JJ Collins, Keith Jagoe, Rob O’Regan, Derek Crowley, Robbie McQueen, Barry O’Driscoll (H), Gearoid White, Darren Beamish, Tomás Connolly, Adrian O’Driscoll, Gavin Beamish, Cillian Fitzpatrick.

 

Ballydehob: Joel Davis, Barry O’Brien, Sean Minihane, David Roycroft, Steve Duggan, Ryan O’Neill, Peter Driscoll, Tim Regan, Sacha Walden, Mark Cronin, Joe Hickey, Kalum Geary, Aidan Coughlan, Dermot Hegarty.

Referee: Paul McDermott.