Schoolboys chairman on why summer soccer is the best option in west Cork

Schoolboys chairman on why summer soccer is the best option in west Cork
Drinagh Rangers players, supporters and management celebrate winning the 2017 West Cork League Parkway Hotel/Maybury Coaches Cup including co-manager Declan Deasy.

NEW West Cork Schoolboys League Chairperson Declan Deasy could never have foreseen the challenges his new role would bring following the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.

Alongside Don Hurley, Drinagh Rangers co-manager Declan Deasy has helped deliver consistent West Cork League success to the Canon Crowley Park club for over a decade.

Deasy has been just as active in Drinagh’s schoolboys and schoolgirl’s setup before deciding to take on a new committee role at a critical time for the West Cork Schoolboys League.

Last year’s AGM saw delegates from every club in the West Cork region vote on a single motion brought forward by Drinagh Rangers concerning the on-going winter versus summer soccer debate. The WCSL agreed to begin its season in March and end it in November 2020 but only by a single vote (23 to 22). It was also agreed that the subject of ‘calendar year’ versus ‘winter soccer’ would not be discussed again until the 2022 AGM.

“I decided to take on the role shortly after the West Cork Schoolboys League AGM,” Declan Deasy told The Echo.

“My club, Drinagh Rangers, went into that AGM to vote for a change and play from March to November. Heading into that particular meeting, I had absolutely no notion whatsoever of taking on any committee role, let alone the Chairperson’s one.

“It was Don Hurley who suggested to me on the drive home that I could take on the vacant Chairperson’s position. Well, I immediately told Don that there was no way was I going to do that! I just felt it wasn’t for me.

“Then, when I had a bit of time to think about it, I felt that maybe I should step up to the plate because Drinagh Rangers was the club that brought forward the motion in the first place. I felt that maybe I was someone who could help the league out in that regard.

“My family are all grown up and gone to college so I have that little bit of extra time on my hands.

“That’s when I decided to give the Chairperson’s role a go provided the new Schoolboys League committee wanted me. I will do my level best on behalf of the league because I strongly believe that our new calendar season is the way forward.”

There was close to a 50-50 split in voting for the calendar season change which means half the clubs in West Cork want to stick to their traditional September to May format.

Declan Deasy understands those clubs’ point of view but believes playing through the summer months is what’s best for the WCSL.

“I fully understood and appreciate where those clubs were coming from when they voted against the AGM motion,” Deasy said.

“West Cork remains a GAA stronghold, it is the main sport played throughout our region and there is no getting away from that fact. That is something we will have to do our best to deal with and work around with GAA clubs in the future.

“In previous years, the calendar was easier to handle but recently, the introduction of Emerging Talent Programme inter-league and SFAI competitions has increased the number of games for our young players.

“The club structure in West Cork is small when compared to the number of clubs competing in more urban leagues. Our clubs don’t have a lot of money or enough people to run their clubs voluntarily. Soccer is a skill and touch-based sport so why not play it during the best time of the year for weather and pitches?

“Yes you have holidays, yes you have loads of other sports and non-sporting events going on but you also have seven evenings a week and close to 16 hours of brightness to get fixtures completed.

“I believe playing in the new calendar season will be better for West Cork’s players and coaches. I could yet be proved wrong, but in the long term, I believe this is the way to go for the schoolboy league’s future.”

A new committee had already laid the foundations for the 2020 WCSL season when governing bodies, the FAI and SFAI, brought an abrupt halt to soccer activities throughout the country.

Drinagh Rangers dominated the 2015 SuperValu West Cork Schoolgirls age-grade winning both league and cup trophies following a memorable campaign for the Canon Crowley Park club. Coach Declan Deasy is on the far right.
Drinagh Rangers dominated the 2015 SuperValu West Cork Schoolgirls age-grade winning both league and cup trophies following a memorable campaign for the Canon Crowley Park club. Coach Declan Deasy is on the far right.

“The timing of the Covid-19 outbreak couldn’t have been worse for the West Cork Schoolboys League and our new committee,” Deasy said.

“All the new people that have come on board are very enthusiastic and wanted to get the league up and running as soon as possible. Our committee had put in a huge amount of time and effort in the weeks leading up to our opening weekend of fixtures before things had to be pulled.

“Everyone involved in West Cork Schoolboys League soccer understands that there are far greater issues to be dealt with around the country right now.

“As former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey once stated, these are grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, and unprecedented (Gubu) times! These are indeed extraordinary times and there are a lot of frightened people out there at the minute, afraid for their health and their family’s health.

“So, if not kicking a soccer ball or engaging in any sort of social or sporting gathering helps then that is what we (West Cork Schoolboys League) must do. Everyone has to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and I do believe the vast majority of people are doing that right now.”

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