Tadhg MacCarthaigh 54%
Randal Óg 46%
KIERAN McCARTHY REPORTS
ON Sunday morning, only hours after the final whistle had sounded, Sean Collins was back out working on Tadhg MacCarthaigh’s field of dreams.
He wasn’t resting on his laurels. The grass needed to be cut and Collins was up early to get the job done – and dedication like this is one of the reasons why the club’s top-class sod at Aughaville was crowned Pitch Perfect champion last weekend.
‘Sean Collins has been a constant for the last 30 years, he has helped keep the pitch looking as good as it is,’ club chairman Kieran Daly said.
‘We have a lot of work done on the pitch over the years, the likes of Sean and all these fellas have kept it in good shape, so winning this is a great reward for them and all their hard work.’
Out of 32 GAA clubs from both the Carbery and Beara divisions, only two were left standing in last Saturday’s Pitch Perfect final – Tadhg MacCarthaigh’s Aughaville and Randal Óg’s impressive Ballinacarriga pitch.
This was always going to an epic decider to a competition (run on Twitter polls) that entertained for the past few weeks – and we weren’t disappointed.
Both clubs impressed en route to the last four, and what was noticeable was Tadhg MacCarthaigh’s late surge in their quarter-final win against St Oliver Plunkett’s and also the semi-final against Bere Island. They were the comeback kings of Pitch Perfect so Randals would have known they needed to hold a healthy lead heading into the early hours.
Just after the halfway mark in the final, Randals were in command, leading 57% to 43%, but within hours it was level pegging, and all to play for as we headed in the business end and the final few hours of this battle.
After Randal Óg got Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae onside, Tadhg MacCarthaigh responded with an endorsement from Pope Francis (not the real Pope, granted), as both clubs pulled out all the stops to get the upper-hand.
By the end, and at the 2am cut-off point on Sunday morning, it was Tadhg MacCarthaigh that came out on top, winning 54% to 46% after an incredible 4,109 votes were cast.
And the winner of Pitch Perfect is ... @TadhgMacGAACork.
Our search for the best GAA pitch in West Cork has been epic. From 32 clubs, it's Caheragh's Aughaville pitch that has come out on top after a cracking final that saw over 4,100 votes. pic.twitter.com/u6v2EunWHN
— Kieran McCarthy (@KieranMcC_SS) April 26, 2020
The winning pitch at Aughaville had hit all the right notes to win this Pitch Perfect final that had a bit of everything.
‘It was the players that drove this on, in fairness to them,’ club chairman Kieran Daly explained.
‘The likes of Mark O’Driscoll, even though he is in Australia, was on the case, Colm O’Driscoll was on to some fella in South Africa – there wasn’t a country that wasn’t touched over the last few weeks!
‘It was great to see some of our ex-players get on board too, fellas in New York and London, and the community response was brilliant as well.’
Daly himself joined Twitter last week so he could vote in the competition, and he heard similar stories all over the parish, as they came together to get Tadhg MacCarthaigh over the line.
‘Even Sean Collins was set up with a Twitter account,’ Daly laughed, ‘and the further we progressed in the competition, the more people got behind us.
‘It’s great recognition for everyone who has helped keep the pitch in good shape. Two years ago when we had the drought, we watered the pitch every couple of nights – there was Liam O’Driscoll, Micheál O’Donovan, Eoin Murphy, different fellas with a tractor and water tank.
‘We only have the one pitch so we have to mind it. In fairness, any time we ask any locals to help out, they do.’
And while Tadhg MacCarthaigh’s Aughaville sod got the thumbs up in Pitch Perfect, Kieran Daly was keen to point out that there are plenty of excellent pitches in West Cork.
‘Like every other club, we have some very good people and we are lucky to have them,’ Daly said.
‘A lot of clubs invest money in their pitches, clubs could be spending anywhere between €3,000 and €10,000 a year to keep their pitches in good shape. You have to spend that money to keep the surface good, especially in recent seasons with more traffic and matches on the pitch.’
Of all the pitches in West Cork, there’s one that stands out for Daly.
‘We played in Bantry’s new pitch and I think that when players get the chance to play on it, and more people see how good it is, everyone will realise it’s a savage pitch.’
But, for now, Tadhg MacCarthaigh’s Aughaville has been chosen as West Cork’s best GAA pitch after an exciting few weeks that saw over 27,500 votes cast and all the great pitches in Carbery and Beara rightly lauded.
Let’s hope it’s not the only West Cork final we have this year.