CASTLEHAVEN will hold their own in the 2021 Cork LGFA junior A ranks according to club captain Siobhán Courtney and manager Dinny Cahalane.
A second consecutive county title was just reward for the West Cork club during a Covid-affected season. More importantly, Castlehaven’s dedicated preparation will stand a large squad in good stead stepping up to the junior A grade in 2021.
“We are excited about playing junior A next year because we feel it is a level that we can compete at,” Castlehaven captain Siobhán Courtney admitted.
“Everyone in Castlehaven is delighted at what we have achieved in getting to this grade. We played Dohenys in a few games over the last couple of years and run them really close. So, we are looking forward to another crack off them and another West Cork derby in next year’s championship.”
Scoring goals was never a problem for a Haven outfit that kicked off their 2020 championship camFiveaign with a convincing Group A win away to Bishopstown. Five goals were netted that afternoon before Danny Cahalane’s side came up against a talented Midleton in their second outing.
A final score of 6-17 to 8-5 tells you all you need to know about two teams intent on attacking at the earliest opportunity. Two wins out of two before Castlehaven amassed an even bigger total in seeing off a young Mourneabbey B outfit.
Those victories preceded an eagerly anticipated showdown with West Cork rivals O’Donovan Rossa. The two clubs had clashed in the county junior C final two years before. A drawn encounter in front of a huge attendance, at Clonakilty was followed by an equally thrilling replay in Dunmanway.
Once again, a large crowd was treated to a magnificent matchup between two evenly-matched sides but it would Skibbereen celebrating a county title triumph at the full-time whistle. That meant an additional year in the county C grade but Castlehaven redoubled their efforts both on and off the pitch to deservedly take the 2019 title.
“I think that extra year in the junior C grade benefited us even though we mightn’t have appreciated it,” Courtney noted.
“It allowed the squad to get to know one another better and improve their skills. We have quite a young squad with lots of minors and U21s so that experience of playing junior football was of huge benefit. It made a difference and helped us push on this year.
So, an opportunity to atone for their 2018 loss to Skibbereen was gladly accepted by a Castlehaven team that registered a 4-18 to 2-6 win over their fiercest rivals. That secured Castlehaven a junior B county semi-final berth against Funcheon Gaels where the Haven underlined their quality with a 6-11 to 4-4 triumph.
Castlehaven racked up 26 goals and 61 points ahead of qualifying for this year’s junior B county final where, once again, they would face off against O’Donovan Rossa. The latter were without inter-county star player Laura O’Mahony because of long-term injury but produced a commendable display before going down 5-11 to 3-8.
Yet another thrilling county junior B final victory rounded off an undefeated 2020 season for a Castlehaven side that had Mairead O’Driscoll (2-4), Katie Cronin (1-6), Grainne O’Sullivan (2-0) and Rachel Whelton on the scoresheet.
“It was a brilliant game (county final) right to the end,” Castlehaven manager Dinny Cahalane admitted shortly after full time.
“We were down a player for the last few minutes and they kept coming at us but in fairness, our girls held out. We played an unbelievable second half, really upped it and played the football that they have played all year. Everyone upped it today.”
“Management were always organised (throughout the year) and introduced a lot of fresh ideas when we finally got back on the pitch (after lockdown),” Siobhán Courtney concluded.
“Everyone was enthusiastic about going to training, drills were sharp and that’s what we needed. John McGuckin (coach) brought in new ideas and he and the management team were so committed to us. They gave up a lot of their time which we really appreciated. They have been brilliant for us all year and the reason we got over the line in the end.”
Castlehaven won the county junior C championship in 2019 and junior B equivalent in 2020. So, a dedicated squad and experienced management team have every reason to look forward to the 2021 junior A championship.