CASTLEHAVEN senior footballer David Whelton’s coaching journey has started impressively.
The 24-year-old footballer has guided the Skibbereen Community School senior footballers into the knockout stages of the Corn Uí Mhuirí, following strong performances in the group stages.
Skibbereen defeated Coláiste Choilm in their last group game to advance to the quarter-final.
Whelton, who teaches in Skibbereen Community School, was pleased with the performance against Coláiste Choilm.
“It was a great win. We were extremely happy with the fight our players showed on the day. The whole team played so well. We have a very strong team, with a good spine of players, such as Joseph Bohane, Thomas O’Mahony, Thomas O’Donnabhain, Robbie Minihane, Niall Daly, and Jamie O’Driscoll.
“The subs also made a big impact. We have a very strong panel, which is important, as it ensures players have to work hard to earn their place on the team,” he said.
Skibbereen Community School senior footballers have now been drawn to play against PS Rathmore in the quarter-final, with the game scheduled for the weekend of January 15.
Whelton said he has ‘great confidence’ that his players can continue to make an impact on the Munster Post Primary Schools Senior Football A championship.
“We don’t know much about Rathmore. We know they enjoyed comprehensive wins in two of their group games. We didn’t mind who we were drawn to play against, as all the teams left in the championship are very strong teams.
We are confident in our group and we have trained well all year. When you have a committed group of players, it’s hard to fear anyone.
“The game will be played in a neutral venue. We were delighted to have home advantage and good support for the game against Coláiste Choilm, but we don’t mind where we play.
“We are confident in our group that we can beat anyone, anywhere, on our day,” he added.
Three Cork schools, Skibbereen Community School, Clonakilty Community College, and Hamilton High School Bandon, reached the last eight of this year’s Corn Uí Mhuirí.
Whelton is thrilled Skibbereen CS are back among the top teams in the Munster Post Primary Schools Senior Football A championship, following a lean period.
“It is important for Cork football that our school teams are competitive in this grade. It is fantastic for West Cork football that three school football teams in the region have qualified for the knockout stages.
“In the last few years, Skibbereen CS has not been at the top table of football in Munster, so it’s important that a school that boasts such a strong football pedigree is back competing for major honours.”
Whelton, who is in his first year coaching the Skibbereen CS senior football team, is indebted to the help from his backroom team, who have played a big role in their strong season to date.
“I knew a number of the players, having previously been involved with the Castlehaven U17 team.
I have received a lot of help from Colman O’Driscoll. Colman is the heart and soul of football in the school.
“I have great respect for Colman, as we nearly achieved the desired goal of making a Corn Uí Mhuirí final together in 2014.
“We were part of the St Fachtna’s team that lost after extra time to DLS Macroom. James McCarthy is also doing wonderful work with the underage players in the school, which bodes well for the future.
“There is a great culture and spirit involved between the players and the coaching team. Chris O’Brien, who acts as the first aid and physio, Ultan O’Donovan and Eoin Murphy, the kit men, are also invaluable members of the team.”
Whelton, who comes from a family steeped in football, is loving his coaching role and helping players fulfil their potential.
“I love coaching. It is not something I saw myself getting into, being honest. However, when I was asked to help out with the school team, I relished the opportunity.
“It is very enjoyable when you are working with a group of dedicated individuals who are willing to put in the work.
“We have a few outstanding individuals, such as Robbie Minihane, Jack O’Neill, Niall Daly, and Jamie O’Driscoll.
“With these guys at our disposal, you can build a team around them. I am so honoured to be involved with these players, as they have a remarkable attitude and passion for the game.”
As a player, Whelton enjoyed a strong season with the Castlehaven senior footballers this year.
“We were gutted with the 2020 county final result and this year’s semi-final result, but this will only spur us on.
“We have a young team and I think seeing Nemo Rangers and St Finbarr’s going up and lifting the Andy Scannell Cup will drive us on even more for next year. I can’t wait for the new season to start.
“We have a lot of very talented players coming through from the underage teams, such as Joe Bohane, Jack O’Neill, and Jamie O’Driscoll, who will, hopefully, help the Haven get over the line in the near future.”