IN THE latest in our series, we’re reflecting on the memorable AUL season in 2013-14.
This was a season that displayed a huge level of competitiveness across all sections of the league and one where we also saw some terrific finals at the Cross.
Facilities also improved immensely as did the level of fitness displayed by many teams.
Let’s commence our journey with the national competitions which, unfortunately, became a tough task for the Cork AUL sides to take on board once again.
We begin first by reflecting back on the Oscar Traynor competition.
The Cork AUL side’s first encounter was against the Defence Forces at Moneygourney where a spirited performance helped them come from behind before finally running out 3-2 winners in the end.
The goals that night came from Howard Coakley, Phillip Brady and James O’Leary.
Next up was a clash with neighbours MSL at the Cross and after a convincing performance that evening; they came out on top with a 5-2 victory with the goals coming from Gary Nolan (two), Dean Kelly, Alan Greaney and Wayne Cotter.
The Cork AUL side had to take to the road for a clash with the Kerry league who already had recorded victories over the MSL and the Defence Forces.
But, a 1-1 draw that night helped the Cork AUL win their group due to a superior goal difference.
In the open draw, Cork AUL were drawn at home to Innishowen at Leghanamore.
Trailing by 1-2 at the time, the AUL side were reduced to nine men, but despite putting on an extraordinary show in overpowering the visitors over what was a relentless 45 minutes in the second half, they failed to grab an equaliser to force the game into extra time and as a result, made their exit from the competition.
In the FAI Junior Cup, Blarney Street had a great chance to go further in the competition, but against Dublin side Liffey Wanderers, who were really there for the taking, they went down 1-2 on the day in the seventh round.
Then, there was Glen Celtic A who had a much tougher task when they were confronted with St Michaels at home but, on the day, the Tipperary side proved much too strong and ran out easy 4-1 winners in the end.
First division side Fairview had a great run in the competition but had to succumb to a 0-3 defeat against a quality Premier side Geraldines.
In the Munster Junior Cup, second division side Grangevale did themselves proud when they reached the fourth round stage and were very unfortunate to bow out after suffering a 2-4 defeat at the hands of Clare side Sporting Ennistymon.
With Kilreen Celtic bowing out against St Michael’s along with Village United going down away to Newmarket Celtic in their fifth round ties, it was left to Premier side Park United A to fly the flag for the AUL, but after battling it out in the quarter-final stages in an away tie against St Michael’s, they came out at the wrong end of a 3-1 results at Brigown in Mitchelstown.
The AOH Cup final that season between Blarney Street Athletic and Kilreen Celtic was attended by one of the biggest crowds ever to witness the blue ribbon event for some time.
Despite the talent in both sides that season, the final failed to live up to expectations and it took the dreaded penalty shoot-out after 110 minutes of football without a goal to decide the outcome as Blarney Street Athletic ran out 5-4 winners to lift the trophy for the first time in their history.
One of the best goals I saw scored in junior football at the cross was the one John Paul Murphy scored for Greenwood in their narrow 1-0 victory over Killumney United to lift the Mossie Linnane League Cup at the Cross that season.
With the game poised to enter extra time as both sides failed to break the deadlock, Greenwood’s Mickey Cronin made good progress down the right flank before crossing low for Joe Ryan who failed to connect and when it broke for John Paul Murphy 25 yards out, he unleashed an exquisite thunderbolt that whistled into the back of the net in the 80th minute for what was really and truly a wonderful winner in the end.
I vividly remember Killumney laying siege on the Greenwood goal after that in an effort to claim the equalizer, but Greenwood’s defence were imperious.