CLONAKILTY Community College recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their All-Ireland Vocational Schools football final success against Down secondary school St Malachy’s.
The Clonakilty secondary school team emerged victorious by three points, on a final scoreline of 0-11 to 0-8.
Team captain and key player Rory O’Sullivan still finds it hard to believe 10 years have elapsed since their All-Ireland final triumph.
“It is scary how fast the time has gone. A lot of things have changed since then. We have all grown up and matured, but the memories of that school year will always be there. It was a very special time.
“It was a great achievement,” revealed the Argideen Rangers club man.
Rory who now works as a pilot, is currently grounded in West Cork due to the current Covid-19. He stills meets up with a lot of the victorious Clonakilty Community College team.
Their close friendships were a key factor in their march to All-Ireland glory.
Rory and his team-mates are hoping to mark the anniversary when normal service is resumed in Ireland.
“Nothing was set in stone, but every time you’d meet one of the lads we would always say that we should mark the occasion.
“Hopefully, we will be able to sometime soon, but with everything that is going on right now we will have to wait and see.
“I’m still very friendly with a lot of the lads. It is always good to meet up with all the players. We shared a great experience together.”
The West Cork outfit went into the All-Ireland final as slight underdogs due to the greater experience their Castlewellan opponents enjoyed.
The Down side had also reached the All-Ireland final the previous year.
Rory is full of praise for the expertise they received from their coaches who ensured they were brilliantly prepared.
“Our trainers Micheal O’Sullivan and Val Lynch had their research done on the Down lads and we knew what to expect.
“They had us well prepared for the occasion. The night before the match, Haulie gave us a rundown on each player in the opposition team.
“He pinpointed which leg they were stronger on, how good they were in the air and so forth. This was hugely beneficial to us.
“We were underdogs on the day, because they made the final the year before as well. At the start of the year we knew we had a great team and management behind us so it was just about each one of us doing our job.
“Thankfully, we worked brilliantly as a team throughout the year.”
Captaining his side to All-Ireland glory in Croke Park represented a huge personal achievement for the ace footballer who represented the Cork footballers in minor, U21 and senior grades.
The talented Argideen Rangers man was also a very talented hurler who played underage hurling for the Rebels. He has great memories of lifting the cup in Croke Park.
“It was absolutely amazing to play in Croke Park and with lads that I grew up with. We had massive support travel to Dublin to cheer us on. All of the clubs who had players involved on the panel were very well represented and it definitely helped settle the nerves on the day.
“Our supporters made it sound like the place was full. Lifting the cup is something I will never forget. It was a very proud moment for all involved.
“It was a great feeling lifting the cup on the Hogan Stand.”
Four Argideen Rangers players were part of the successful Clonakilty Community College panel.
Star full-forward Colin Smith played a key role in their triumph. He kicked four points in the final as Rory recalls.
“Colin had a great game. He kicked a few nice few points, which we are still hearing about ever since.
“This included one great score after he did a dummy solo. It was a great honour for the club to have four members on the panel.”
Current Cork senior footballer Thomas Clancy was another one of Rory’s old team-mates who played a key role in helping Clonakilty Community College capture the All-Ireland title. Rory always knew Thomas was destined for a bright career.
“Thomas was always a standout player. It is no surprise he made it to inter-county level. He kicked a massive 45 in the final when we needed it most. He was always so reliable and a great man to have on your side.”
Clonakilty Community College secured a unique double that year.
Their senior hurling team also won the All-Ireland B championship title. Rory and a good few more of the football stars concluded their secondary school reign with double All-Ireland titles.
The winning squads featured a number of players from local GAA clubs which their coaches had to successfully integrate into a harmonious team as Rory recalled.
“There were a number of factors in our success. We had a great squad.
“The management really gelled it all together and obviously each one of the lads gave it their all. Clonakilty GAA also gave us their pitch to train on which was a massive help.
“Everyone put in a massive effort with the training sessions after school and some weekends also. For a lot of us it was our last year, so it was a great way to finish.
“Winning the All-Ireland B hurling final as well concluded a fantastic year.”