BY GER McCARTHY
LAST weekend saw a bumper crowd attend two exciting West Cork League mygaff.ie Cup semi-finals at a sun-kissed Canon Crowley Park.
Crookstown and Dunmanway Town emerged victorious at the expense of Bunratty United and Togher Celtic but what did we learn from the two cup-ties?
1. Defences win trophies
The old adage that forwards win matches but defences win titles was never more apt following Easter Sunday’s mygaff.ie cup semi-final curtain raiser.
Bunratty United’s exciting forward division, comprising of Colm Cleary, Conor O’Driscoll and Eddie Goggin, produced moments of individual brilliance and spells of dazzling inter-play in their defeat to Crookstown.
Yet for all their creativity, United were guilty of squandering multiple scoring opportunities and, in the end, came off second best to a well-organised Crookstown rearguard, marvellously anchored by Dermot Desmond.
Desmond and Charles Kenneally proved a competent centre-back pairing and they along with goalkeeper Dean Knight ensured Crookstown kept a clean sheet before scoring twice in extra time to book their place in this season’s showpiece event.
Crookstown are well aware that they need a similarly diligent defensive effort against Dunmanway in the decider but look more than capable of handling Town’s talented attackers based on Easter Sunday’s showing.
2. Playing to your strengths reaps dividends
Dunmanway Town could have been forgiven for believing last Sunday wasn’t going to be their day once the Mohona club fell behind to an outrageous David Collins’ opener despite completely dominating the previous 40 minutes.
To their credit, a refusal to panic, insistence on keeping the ball on the ground and attacking at pace reaped dividends with three quick-fire goals to turn the cup tie on its head and cement Town’s place in the mygaff.ie cup final.
Vincent and Denis Healy’s defensive solidity allied with Eoin Lavers’ work rate plus the attacking ingenuity of Jerry McCarthy and Johnny Kelly ensured Dunmanway won through in the end.
Add to that the quick delivery and lightening pace of Mark Quinn and Barry O’Donovan on both flanks plus possessing one of the best goalkeepers in the West Cork League in Tom Murphy and Dunmanway Town have every right to fancy their chances in the upcoming cup decider against the side that defeated them in last year’s semi-final.
3. The West Cork League has much to offer
Easter Sunday’s cup semi-final double header was a well-run event, staged at Drinagh Rangers’ excellent Canon Crowley Park playing facility and in front of a bumper crowd in blazing sunshine.
It is on days like these that the West Cork League gets a chance to showcase its product at its very best. Much like the League of Ireland, too many punters choose to ignore their local soccer club and league, decrying it as ‘Sunday morning kick-about’ and ‘not worth the admission price’.
Firstly, it is free admission when attending any WCL league or cup match apart from the mygaff.ie cup semi-finals and final.
Secondly, anyone lucky enough to have witnessed the quality football produced by league champions Drinagh Rangers, Dunmanway Town, Bunratty United, Skibbereen, Clonakilty AFC, Togher Celtic and Crookstown throughout the season would quickly change their opinion of their regional league and be inclined to turn up and watch their local club during the long winter months.
A thriving underage scene, comprising of the West Cork schoolboys, schoolgirls, blitzes, astro-turf and futsal competitions allied with the increasingly popular West Cork Masters summer tournaments means there is quality football on your doorstep all-year round.
Instead of having a go at the local leagues from your bar-stool vantage point, why not turn up to an actual game and judge for yourself?
This year’s mygaff.ie Cup final would be a good place to start.