BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CLONAKILTY U21 boss Neil Deasy has urged his three-in-a-row West Cork winning side to seize their big chance in the county series.
Clon face their biggest test this Sunday afternoon when they take on reigning Cork U21 football kingpins, Nemo Rangers, in a quarter-final of the county championship in Kilmurry, at 3pm.
However, Clonakilty have been dealt a blow with the experienced defender Colm Sheehy likely to miss out after picking up a hamstring injury in the seniors’ recent championship defeat.
Wary of the Nemo obstacle, Deasy wants his young troops to fulfil their potential and take a giant step closer to that illusive first Cork U21 football title.
‘It’s as tough as it gets but if you want to win a county, and that’s what we want at this stage, then you have to play a team like Nemo as some point,’ Deasy said.
‘It’s just another game that we have to focus on and we will give it one hell of a shot. We are relishing the challenge. We respect Nemo, of course, but we don’t fear them.’
The West Cork men are heading into the county series off the back of a third South West U21 A title in a row, capped off by a 1-16 to 0-7 dismantling of Castlehaven in a one-sided divisional final in late March.
Dominant in their own backyard Clonakilty haven’t transferred that to the county scene as they still await their first Cork U21 title.
Backboned by Cork U21 Sean White, as well as four Cork minors – David Lowney, Sean McEvoy, Tiarnan O’Connell and goalkeeper Mark White – and Jack O’Mahony, Ian Falvey and Jack Cowhig in attack, Cian Crowley in midfield, this is a strong Clonakilty team, but also one that next season will be able to call on 16 of the 19 players that featured in the West Cork final.
‘We have experience but at the same time there has been a regeneration of the team every year,’ Deasy said.
‘It’s not like that we won the West Cork this year with the same 15 that won it two years ago. We expect a lot from these players. We put a lot of pressure on them and they have responded so far. Sunday will be a step-up.’
As Deasy agrees, Clonakilty will be the underdogs against a Nemo that has won the Seandun U21 A football championship for the last five seasons – the latest, a 2-10 to 2-6 victory over neighbours Douglas in Ballinlough. They also annihilated Bishopstown 3-18 to 1-1 in the city division semi-final, and can call on four Cork U21s who started last month’s Munster U21 final loss to Tipperary, goalkeeper Micheál Martin, defender Stephen Cronin, midfielder Alan O’Donovan and forward Conor Horgan.
• On Saturday Valley Rovers take on Fermoy in their U21 A football quarter-final, in Blarney at 3.30pm.