IMOKILLY’s three-in-a-row of Cork County titles was celebrated recently at Midleton Park Hotel with outgoing team manager Fergal Condon presenting the medals.
Condon, alongside selectors Derek Barrett, Jimmy Smiddy, Sean Harnedy and Ciaran Cronin, masterminded the unique feat of securing the Seán Óg Murphy Cup in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and it was felt by the Imokilly Board and his fellow management members that it would only be right and fitting that he should be the one to hand over the medals.
Condon has been a hugely popular mentor among the players as well as a diligent and astute manager.
In addressing the players, the Aghada native said that it was his privilege to be involved with such a dedicated assembly.
“The past three years have been hugely rewarding for all of us, the Imokilly Board, we as a management team but most of all you as the players.
“Without the effort you put in, the dedication that you showed and your application this could not have happened.
“I want to thank all of you for that commitment and the journey that we had and I know that under Ciaran (the new team boss) ye will continue to challenge for top honours.
“I want to thank the people I had with me, Jimmy, Sean, Derek and Ciaran. You gave me fantastic support over the past few years and I know that will continue.’’ The Cork County Board was represented on the night by Development Officer, Pat Horgan who also paid tribute to what had been achieved.
“I want to congratulate everybody who has been associated with what has been achieved. My own club Midleton were in one of the finals with ye but the better team won on the day.
“It takes a huge effort to win one title, not to mind three. You all represented the division of East Cork with great distinction and I salute the players, management and the East Cork Board for what has been achieved.
“I know the effort that was put in and for a division to be able to do that was a great achievement."
The chairman of the Imokilly Board, Donal O’Keeffe also spoke glowingly to the gathering, firstly praising the players for their commitment and the management team that had overseen the whole project.
“Everybody did a fantastic job and I want to thank Fergal for what he has done over the past three years.
“Everybody put in a huge effort and we as a board were very happy to be able to give you as much support as we could"
Imokilly were the first division to win three hurling titles in a row and already preparations have been put in place for the coming season.
The reigning champions will, however, have a long wait before they get the opportunity to begin the defence of their title.
With a new structure to the competition this season, the divisions have a later start, something that new team boss Ciaran Cronin explained.
“We don’t actually start the championship until early September. Ourselves, UCC and Cork IT will be joined by whichever of the other divisions comes through.
“Only one team from the divisions and colleges will go into the championship proper, so that will mean we’ll have to play two games to do that."
Cronin who will be joined again on the management team by Jimmy Smiddy and Sean Harnedy and new selector Brendan Ring from Youghal after Derek Barrett had to step down for personal reasons.
Alan Morrissey from Aghada comes into the equation too as team coach.
“There’s one or two changes alright but everybody is looking forward to having another go.
“We have already begun our preparations and we have had a few challenge games against Bride Rovers, Valley Rovers and the ‘Barrs.
“The aim over the coming months will be to continue along those lines, playing challenge games before we get back into the championship picture.
“We have lost a couple of players from last season, the Fr O’Neill’s lads have gone up senior and it’s the same with Cloyne.
“Of course, we’ll miss them but I believe we’ll still have a strong squad. We have a few lads coming back, Niall O’Leary is back with us from UCC and Barry Lawton from Castlemartyr is back in again after being out injured.
“They’ll be great additions and we have Josh Beausang from Russell Rovers also coming in and Castlelyons' Jack Barry, that’s all good news.
“We have a few lads doing the Leaving Cert too, Ciaran Joyce from Castlemartyr and one or two more."
Despite losing some key players like Deccie Dalton, Paudie O’Sullivan, Billy Dunne and Mark O’Keeffe the East Cork divisional unit will be one of the favourites again for the title and the early indications are that no stone will be left unturned in trying to achieve the four-in-a-row.