Douglas manager Ray Keating felt that Saturday’s victory over Valley Rovers in Carrigaline showed how they have improved as a team.
Last year, the city side didn’t qualify for the knockout stages of the Bons Secours Hospital Cork Premier SFC but the win over their Innishannon opponents left them in an excellent position.
It was a hard-earned triumph – while Douglas led all through, an injury-goal by Valleys’ Ciarán McCarthy levelled the game only for Cormac Collins to reply with the winning point. Having lost to Valleys in the 2020 championship, Keating was pleased with how the team showed maturity and character.
“We had to learn from last year,” he said.
“We beat Bishopstown in the first game and we were just flat against Valleys, they played much better than us on the day.
“To be fair, since the draw was made, it was a game that we targeted to see where we are and see if the improvement was there. I think we saw a massive improvement in ourselves.”
The result means Douglas top Group A on four points, with Valleys on two along with Douglas’s next opponents, neighbours and rivals Nemo Rangers.
“Going into the last game, it’s a brilliant championship the way it’s structured,” Keating said.
“Every kick of the ball matters, and we know we have to go in and win that game as well. This will give us a nice lift.
“I think every team has loftier ambitions than getting out of a group, but that’s where are now.
“We have one game to make sure we get out of the group and we’ll then again.”
Valley Rovers selector Paul Hoey wasn’t surprised that it was a close game.
“Yeah, it was disappointing at the end,” he said.
“We worked hard but Douglas are a good side, we knew that from last year, there was only a couple of points in it at the end.
“They had a good win over Carrigaline and we knew coming in here that this wasn’t going to be an easy game and it proved not to be. There was nothing in it and it went to the last kick of the game, six or seven minutes into injury time, that was the difference between the teams.
“In the first half, we gave away possession. We had a few turnovers, which wasn’t in our game the last day.
“The lads showed true heart and grit, typical Valley Rovers performance, dug it out and got back level. They were unfortunate then to lose to the winning score in injury time.”
However, he remains upbeat ahead of the final group game against Carrigaline.
“It’s still in our own hands,” he said.
“This was always going to be a very tight group – the last day, Douglas-Carrigaline, there were only two points in it with nine minutes to go and Douglas kicked on.
“Carrigaline are a good side. We need to bring our A-game and hopefully get the job done the next day.”