After successive promotions, Spartak Mossgrove will compete in the WCL Premier Division next term. GER McCARTHY looks closely at the club’s dramatic rise as thoughts already turn towards next season
SPARTAK Mossgrove’s second consecutive West Cork League promotion was recently confirmed, culminating in a remarkable return for a club that only reformed in the summer of 2015.
Mossgrove’s successful West Cork League OBrienWaterServices.com Division 1 campaign will be remembered for the manner in which the title-chasing side maintained the consistency that delivered promotion from Division 2 only 12 months before.
At the time of writing, Spartak need only a point from their final league game away to Kilmichael Rovers to be confirmed as champions. No doubt, the prospect of holding off their great rivals Lyre Rovers (who pipped Mossgrove to last season’s Division 2 trophy) would make for a fairytale ending to Mossgrove’s 2016-17 season.
Reaching the top tier of the West Cork League represents a deserving accolade for player-manager Daniel Twomey, main sponsors Collins Cronin Twomey Accountants and Registered Auditors, Innishannon and the entire Spartak squad.
‘Gaining another promotion is a terrific achievement for the entire squad considering we only got back together to form a new club less than two years ago,’ commented player-manager Daniel Twomey.
‘A lot of the players involved represented Crossmahon AFC in the past before our club disbanded and players ended up signing for Riverside Athletic, Castletown Celtic and a few other West Cork sides. The core of Spartak Mossgrove all live in the Newcestown area so Spartak is pretty much the old Crossmahon team plus a lot of new up-and-coming players we hope to build the club’s future on.
‘The intention was no different than when we were playing for Crossmahon, we just wanted to get back to the top West Cork League division as soon as we possibly could.’
Maintaining momentum from the previous season’s Division 2 promotion was critical to Spartak’s 2016 success. Incorporating new players into the first team squad, the ability to complete their WCL fixture list in record time as well as allowing squad members socialise at the weekends proved equally vital in ensuring Mossgrove secured a Premier Division berth.
‘It was important that we brought a couple of young fellas into the first team this season and gave them the experience of playing West Cork League football,’ Daniel Twomey said.
‘We have a lot young players at minor and U21 GAA grade training and playing with us now and it is good to have them because it pushes the other players to keep their place.
‘Promotion was the number one thing for us when we started out at the beginning of the season, so with a bigger squad this time around we felt that aiming for promotion as well as a good Beamish Cup run was well within our reach.
‘Being knocked out of the GAA early on certainly helped our cause. It meant we had a full panel to select from and we also decided to try and play as many of our league games, home or away, on a Saturday rather than a Sunday.
‘That’s a bit unusual for the West Cork League as Sunday is the traditional day games are played. It allowed our players to go out and enjoy their Saturday nights throughout the winter, something they appreciated after having been training all year with their GAA clubs and not being able to indulge.
‘I’d also say that the unusually good weather was a big factor too as we didn’t play in heavy rain almost the entire season. The pitches were in great nick and regular games allowed us to keep the momentum going.’
Despite their recent successes, Spartak Mossgrove’s players are only too aware that life in the top tier of the West Cork League will be far from easy. Established Premier Division clubs like Drinagh, Riverside and Dunmanway are certain to provide the newly promoted club with their toughest assignments since reforming over 24 months ago.
It is a challenge player-manager Daniel Twomey is relishing however and he’s confident his squad will hold their own against some of the best teams in the region.
‘We were good enough to be part of the Premier Division back when we played with Crossmahon so I don’t see any reason why we cannot compete this time around as Spartak Mossgrove,’ Twomey commented.
‘I remember taking Drinagh to extra time in the Beamish Cup last year, I know it wasn’t the league but that showed me that we have enough quality within our squad to make a go of it in the Premier Division. The lads are especially looking forward to going up against Riverside Athletic and that should lead to two very good games when we eventually meet up.’
Getting back to the top division proved an onerous task. A blend of youth and experience served Mossgrove well with a 2-0 defeat of main title-rivals Lyre Rovers in early September setting the tone for a successful season.
Spartak followed up that important victory with four consecutive wins over Skibbereen, Crookstown, Baltimore and Mizen AFC before Kilmichael Rovers held the newly promoted club to a 3-3 draw in Inchisine on October 9th.
Another pivotal triumph over Lyre Rovers occurred at the end of that month, Spartak running out 5-3 winners to copper fasten their title-favourites tag. Since then, defeats of Baltimore and Crookstown preceded a crucial trip to the Mizen peninsula. The scenario was straightforward at kick-off; take all three points at the expense of Mizen AFC and Spartak would be crowned West Cork League OBrienWaterServices.com Division 1 champions.
Alas, a 1-1 draw put the champagne on ice and meant Spartak must now avoid defeat in their final outing away to Kilmichael to claim the trophy, irrespective of second placed Lyre Rovers’ results in their remaining fixtures.
It is an exciting time for the former Crossmahon club and their supporters as the prospect of Premier Division football in 2017 coupled with a potential run to the business end of this season’s Beamish Cup loom large on the horizon.
Spartak Mossgrove are back in the big time and capable of making their mark.