THERE are four new additions to the Munster Senior League for the upcoming season, with three of the four also bringing junior teams into the league.
Innishvilla, Macroom, Pearse Celtic, and Buttevant, will follow in the footsteps of Lakewood Athletic and Carrigtwohill United, who joined the MSL ranks last season.
The new arrivals will increase the Beamish Stout Senior Second Division to 12 teams and a lot of roads will be travelled in the second division this season.
There has been a soccer presence in Innishannon since 1967 when the club played under the town’s name before changing it to Innishvilla.
Noel Ryan has been involved with the club for the past 22 years, 18 of them as chairman, and he has seen the club grow from just one team into a club that now has 20 teams across all the leagues, schoolboys, youths, and adults as well ladies.
During Ryan’s time the club has gone from renting a pitch to developing its own top clash facilities at Jake O’Donoghue Park, just outside Innishannon.
“I joined the club about 22 years when I came down here from the city. I had been involved with Glasheen a bit, but when I came to Innishannon I got involved with starting the schoolboys side of things.” Ryan said.
“The club had been renting a pitch at that time, but we began to grow and we began to get more players as the catchment area increased.”
Something had to change and the club invested in seven acres of land and over the years they have developed two playing pitches, four dressingrooms a club complex, and they recently completed a training astro pitch that can also cater for matches from U12 down.
Up to last season, Innishvilla had been competing in the AUL Premier Division, having progressed through the grades during which time they won the Saxone Cup.
In recent years they added a second junior side, as the first team continued to make progress, the highlight being their AOH Cup final win over Park United a few years ago.
Indeed, that was the Mitcheltown’s final season in the AUL as they took the step up to the Munster Senior League and this year Innishvilla decided it was time for them to do likewise.
“We had invested heavily in the club and we wanted to play at the highest level.
“We wanted to be a club that could attract players and more importantly hang on to our own top players.
“One of our former players, Jack Walsh, won an FAI Intermediate Cup medal with Avondale United last year, and we’ve had a lot of good players come through our underage ranks.
“Also, because we had put some much into developing to club, we wanted to compete against teams that had done likewise, we wanted to play against teams with good facilities.”
The Innisvilla senior team will have Mick Brosnan, Sean O’Sullivan, and Shane Fitzgerald as their management team, while the juniors are managed by Philip Higgins.
Innishvilla will hoping to make an impression, much like Park did a few seasons ago when they won the division at their first attempt.
With 12 teams in the senior second division, though, it will be a difficult battle to earn promotions.
When the season was cancelled the promotion race was a tight affair with Wilton leading they way, with Youghal United, Riverstown, and Lakewood Athletic all in contention.
All four should be in the mix again this season and you can expect Fermoy to also make a challenge, so the second division looks like it could be wide open and with games in places like Youghal, Fermoy, Kilworth, Macroom, and Buttevant, teams will be have to put in the hard yards – and miles – to earn promotion.