Review of the season: Skibbereen lifted the U12 trophy after a thrilling campaign

Review of the season: Skibbereen lifted the U12 trophy after a thrilling campaign
Skibbereen Dynamos who were 2019-20 SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys U12 Division 1B League champions following an entertaining title race.

THE 2019-20 SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys U12 Division 1B League produced 300 goals and worthy champions from Skibbereen.

A season-long battle involving Skibbereen Dynamos, Togher Celtic and Beara United saw the Baltimore Road club crowned the earliest champions of the West Cork Schoolboys League’s 2019-20 campaign.

The WCSL’s continuing growth was underlined by a big entry in the U12 age-grade. Split into three divisions (Premier, 1A and 1B), 20 teams contested this past season’s league and cup competitions. That’s a terrific number of entrants for a rural league spread over such a wide geographical area.

One of the smallest schoolboys leagues in the country didn’t disappoint with the U12 grade’s third tier proving one of the most entertaining over the past 12 months.

Sparta Bay Rovers, Borussia Bay Rovers, Sullane, Riverside Athletic Tigers, Dunmanway Town Youths, Beara, Togher, and Skibb Dynamos made for a talented U12 Division 1B line-up.

The title challengers were staking an early claim for leadership of the division a mere two months into the campaign. Skibbereen Dynamos, Togher Celtic and Beara United were locked together on six points apiece and identical records of two wins a single defeat from their opening fixtures.

Castletownbere team Beara United who were pipped for the runners-up spot in the 2019-20 SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys U12 Division 1B League by Togher Celtic.
Castletownbere team Beara United who were pipped for the runners-up spot in the 2019-20 SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys U12 Division 1B League by Togher Celtic.

Things changed little with the same trio still-joint top of the rankings on 12 points each by the end of June. A fourth club, Dunmanway Town Youths temporarily entered the title-picture around that timeframe. The Mohona side moved within three points of the league pacesetters following an upturn in form.

Little had changed by the end of August with Dynamos still top of the table but only three points clear of second placed Beara who had managed to edge five ahead of third-placed Togher.

September would prove critical as Skibbereen managed to complete an extra set of fixtures and stretch their advantage to nine at the summit of the standings.

October proved the deciding month in an entertaining U12 Division 1B battle for supremacy. Skibbereen Dynamos travelled to Ballyvourney and came away with a point following an amazing 14-goal encounter.

Sullane held the eventual champions to a 7-7 draw before Skibbereen Dynamos and Beara met in a pivotal showdown at the Baltimore Road.

The visitors proved more than a match for the champions on that occasion only to lose 1-0 when Joe McCarthy netted the solitary goal of a cracking encounter. Dynamos were in Kealkill a week later and overcame Borussia Bay Rovers 4-0 to complete their championship crusade.

The runners-up berth in the U12 Division 1B League was all that remained to be confirmed following Skibbereen Dynamos’ league championship coronation. Beara United looked odds on to collect a set of runners-up medals until Togher Celtic’s late surge saw the latter pip the Castletownbere club for second spot by a single point.

Dunmanway Town Youths’ positive showing secured a deserved fourth place finish. Town had four points to spare over fifth-placed Riverside Athletic Tigers. Sullane finished sixth, ahead of two young Bantry Bay Rovers teams, Borussia and Sparta.

Losing once in the league all season, Skibbereen Dynamos finished the campaign with an unblemished home record of seven wins from seven fixtures at the Baltimore Road. Togher and Beara lost only once on their home pitch.

The SuperValu U12 Division 1B League proved one of the most prolific in terms of goal scoring. The eight competing clubs combined for 300 league goals during a high-scoring WCSL campaign. Unsurprisingly, the champions topped the goals scored section with 60 (league) strikes. Dunmanway Town’s ability to regularly find the net saw the Youths weigh in with the second-highest total of 44. Togher Celtic and Riverside Athletic Tigers were joint-third with a creditable 43.

The U12 1B division was fortunate to contain a plethora of gifted attacking players during 2019 and 2020. None more so than Beara’s Rory O’Neill who topped the division’s league and cup scoring charts with 20 goals in all competitions. Dunmanway Town Youths’ Rowan Moran was a close second with 18 strikes.

Riverside Athletic Tigers’ Eoin O’Connor (16 goals), Borussia Bay Rovers’ Charlie Swaine (16), Dunmanway Town Youths’ Adam Barry (15), Skibbereen Dynamos’ Joe McCarthy (13), Sullane’s Jack McCarthy (10), Riverside Athletic Tigers’ Tommy O’Brien (10) and Togher Celtic’s Levi Bosma (9) all enjoyed superb individual campaigns.

Dunmanway Town Youths were the last U12 Division 1B team standing in the SuperValu U12 Cup. The Youths reached the quarter-finals of the prestigious knockout competition only to be eliminated by fellow club-mates Dunmanway Town Cadets following a 4-1 loss. U12 Division 1B champions Skibbereen Dynamos lost out in the preceding round to cup runners-up Skibbereen Celtic (4-0).

Looking ahead, Covid-19 brought a halt to all SuperValu WCSL U12 activities before a ball was kicked in the 2020 season. Encouragingly, there are once again three divisions (Premier, Championship and Division 1) involving 17 teams taking part this year.

The upcoming U12 Division 1, will see Beara United looking to improve on last season’s third place finish. Bunratty United B and Clonakilty AFC B are welcome additions. Riverside Athletic and Sullane are expected to field strong line-ups in a league competition that will not have a confirmed start date until the all clear is given by the HSE to FAI and SFAI leagues dotted around the country.

Whenever the action reconvenes, WCSL players and supporters are in for a treat if the 2020 U12 Division 1 season proves half as entertaining as it’s predecessor won by Skibbereen Dynamos.

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