THE Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí senior footballers will play Dungarvan CBS in a Munster Colleges semi-final encounter this Wednesday.
The Bantry-based secondary school team enjoyed a comfortable win against Youghal in the quarter-final stages of the Munster Schools Championship to secure their place in the last four.
Bantry Community College senior football coach Alan O’Sullivan was impressed with the nature of their win against their Cork opponents.
“It was a very good win against Youghal,” he said.
“All the team played very well on the day. It was a very strong team performance. We beat St Brogan’s in the first round, and then Ballincollig Community School in the next round. We are building momentum. It is great to get to this stage. We will aim to drive it on now.”
Dungarvan CBS secured their semi-final berth after they defeated Douglas CS last Friday afternoon on a full-time scoreline of 4-15 to 1-4.
O’Sullivan said the Déise school team were very convincing winners. He is expecting a very tough game against their Waterford opponents.
“They were very comprehensive winners against Douglas,” he said. “We will have our hands full against them. They have one player who scored three points against Cork in the recent McGrath Cup game.
“We were initially scheduled to play this Saturday, but playing on a school day is easier. Any team that reaches a Munster semi-final will be a very good team. We have prepared accordingly for the game. We have trained hard, and we are ready for the big game.”
This is the furthest a senior team from Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí has progressed in the Munster Colleges Senior Football Championship since the school officially opened in October 2011.
The school football coach is thrilled with their progress this season.
“This is the furthest we have ever gone in terms of the senior team in the Munster Football Championship,” he said.
“We have enjoyed good success at underage level. It is a great achievement to reach the Munster semi-final. They are a great group of lads. They are very talented and they work hard. They are keen to keep learning and improving. There is great excitement around the school at the moment. Momentum is building, and we are all hoping to do everyone proud.”
The school team possesses a number of players from the Beara minor team who recently won the Premier 1 county football title, while they can call upon players from local clubs Bantry Blues and St Colum’s who have also enjoyed similar success with their respective clubs.
He said the school team has benefitted from the momentum they are bringing from their club teams.
“We have four lads who won the Premier 1 Minor County Championship title with Beara just before Christmas,” said O’Sullivan.
“We have lads from both the Bantry Blues and St Colum’s clubs whose underage teams are flying it at the moment. Bantry were playing Premier 1 minor football last year, which is a very high standard, while St Colum’s has a lot of very talented players coming through at the moment.
“We also had a few lads training with the Cork minor football panel over the course of recent weeks, which was a great reflection on them and their clubs. This all feeds into the school team when all these good players come together and put on the school jersey.
“They are bringing a lot of talent, a winning mentality, and momentum to the school football team.”
The Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí senior panel also includes players from Caha Óg, which is a combination of Glengarriff and Adrigole and Muintir Bháire. O’Sullivan paid tribute to all the local GAA coaches for their work with the players down through the years.
“The various local club teams who supply the players are doing serious work with the players,” he said.
All the coaches are doing great work in helping to nurture the talent the players have. The majority of players in this year’s senior team enjoyed good success at underage level with the school team and this has now translated into this strong run at senior level.
“These players will go back to their clubs as better players. They are playing against strong school teams at a good standard.”
The Bantry school football team is currently competing in the Senior C grade. He said they are always “striving” to compete at a higher level, but they must be patient.
“We are two levels below the Corn Uí Mhuirí competition,” said O’Sullivan.
“We are always striving to compete at a higher level. We have to be patient. We will keep building and taking it one step at a time. Hopefully, we can keep pushing on another step or two.”
O’Sullivan, who is a member of the Clonakilty GAA Club, has coached various teams in the Bantry secondary school during his seven years teaching in Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí. He is ably assisted by former Cork underage football David Harrington.
“David is a very good coach,” said O’Sullivan.
“He is doing great work with the players. There is a great interest in GAA in the school.
“Fintan O’Connor from Knocknagree and Ivan Kingston, who is heavily involved with Bantry Blues, are also members of the staff. We are getting great support from everyone in the school.
“There is a great buy-in all around.”