WEST Cork clubs will be looking to improve on their past season’s Bon Secours Cork senior A football campaigns.
A new-look format to last year’s Cork SAFC saw 12 teams divided into three qualifying groups before a straight knockout phase.
Unlike its Premier Senior equivalent, there was no ‘West Cork Group of Death’ even though Carbery clubs Bandon and Dohenys were drawn against one another in Group C. The Dunmanway club faced off against the Lilywhites in Ahiohill where the two rivals served up one of the games of the championship.
Down 0-11 to 0-8 heading into the closing minutes, Dohenys dug deep and looked to have turned the tables when Mark Buckley kicked four consecutive points.
There was still time for Bandon to hit back however, as Cian O’Mahony floated over a terrific injury-time equaliser. The West Cork sides had to settle for a share of the points. Bandon lost by two points to Fermoy in their final group outing but secured the runners-up berth and a place in the knockout stages by virtue of their earlier defeat of Clyda Rovers.
A young Dohenys team failed to progress despite earning a second consecutive draw in their last game against Clyda. Despite failing to emerge from their group, Dohenys can look forward to 2021 with renewed optimism thanks to a young panel that includes Fionn Herlihy, Keith White and Cathal Daly.
Dual club Bandon’s interest in the Cork SAFC was ended by Mallow following a 2-16 to 2-10 loss in the quarter-finals. Former manager Colm Aherne is back at the helm for this year’s championship however and has plenty of raw material to work with. Mark Sugrue, Ronan Crowley and Darren Crowley plus a host of emerging talent from the U21 and minor grades gives Bandon’s footballers every chance of improving on their 2020 showing.
A six-point loss to the latter and 2-11 to 1-10 defeat to Mallow sandwiched a crucial meeting with Kiskeam.
Alas, Bantry lost that encounter by a single point in Clondrohid which meant a relegation play-off against St Nicks where the winners would retain their senior A grading.
Thankfully, the Blues produced their best performance of the championship to overwhelm an understrength St Nicks thanks to standout displays from Cork senior Ruairí Deane, Arthur Coakley and Shane McSweeney. Not that they will need reminding, Bantry are only too aware that they require more consistent performances if another relegation battle is to be avoided.
O’Donovan Rossa was the standout West Cork club in the 2020 Cork SAFC. The Skibbereen side topped Group A thanks to an unblemished record against St Michael’s, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh and St Nicks.
Amassing 5-24 from their first three championship encounters, O’Donovan Rossa secured a bye into the semi-finals where the West Cork club took on Éire Óg. Clonakilty GAA’s Ahamilla complex was the venue for a pulsating encounter which ebbed and flowed from first minute to last.
Goals would prove crucial to the outcome as Dylan Foley and Colm O’Callaghan found the net in Éire Óg’s 2-10 to 1-8 victory. O’Callaghan was the winners’ standout performer on a day Daniel Goulding chipped in with 0-5.
Disappointed at losing in the penultimate round, O’Donovan Rossa can take solace from a productive campaign and should be in the mix for honours once again this year. Martin Bohane is returning as manager for another tilt at the senior A title along with a new-look backroom team.
On the pitch, Rossa’s retain one of the most potent forwards-lines in the senior A championship. Kevin Davis, Tomás Hegarty, David Shannon, Dylan Hourihane and Donal Óg Hodnett possess the necessary firepower to inspire O’Donovan Rossa to the latter stages of the Cork SAFC for a second consecutive season.
O’Donovan Rossa and Bandon look set to challenge for senior A football championship honours once again this year. Dohenys have the potential to kick on, as do Bantry Blues, who will be eager to avoid another relegation dogfight. Expect West Cork’s entrants to have a big say in the destination of the 2021 Bon Secours SAFC trophy.