RANDAL Óg GAA Club who enjoyed a memorable season last year as they reached three county finals in both codes are determined to scale similar heights again this year.
The Carbery divisional club defeated Goleen and Dripsey to capture two county Junior B football championship titles, while they were defeated by Belgooly in the Junior B hurling county final. There was a crossover of ten players who played both codes and in three county finals last year.
Shane Patterson had the distinction of captaining the hurlers, while he was also an influential figure on the football team said last year was a ‘fantastic’ journey.
“I have been playing with the club for nearly 20 years now and I never experienced a year like it. We got to play many high-quality games in both codes and we enjoyed some journey.
"Playing in three county finals last year was a unique experience. Winning two of them was brilliant for the club, the players, and the supporters. It was a very successful year which will live long in the memory,” he said.
The 37-year-old player paid tribute to the County Board for reinvigorating the Junior B championships by making them an all-county championship.
“Making the Junior B competitions an all-county competition was a great idea. It has enabled us to get plenty of games against new opponents throughout the county.
"It has brought great freshness to the competition.
"We have travelled the length and breadth of the county in the last six or seven years playing against teams we had never played before which has been a great experience.”
He modestly plays down his role as captain of the hurlers who were defeated by a very strong Belgooly team in the county final as he acknowledged the role of their young players who emerged as leaders last season.
“I was captain of the hurling team, while Seamus Crowley was the captain of the football team. It was a great honour to be appointed captain. There was no real work involved in it as we have a lot of leaders. We have a very young panel. I am probably one of the older lads on the panel.
“Our young players brought a great attitude to the panel. We have a number of 18 and 19-year-old players. They have been great additions. They are a credit to themselves and the club. They are the future of the club,” he added.
The Randal Óg club which is based in Ballinacarriga, just outside Dunmanway has throughout its history struggled with playing numbers due to its proximity to bigger clubs in the locality and the small nature of its parish.
He is very encouraged by the strength in depth of their current panel and the average age of their players.
“To have so many young players coming through is great and very encouraging for such a small and rural area. We had a panel of about 27 players last year which was great.
“We are hoping the current young players will be the nucleus of the various club teams over the coming years. We would be hoping then that more young players will come in behind them and take over that mantle in time. The strong numbers we have at present bode well for the club going forward,” he said.
The Randal Óg club possesses state-of-the-art facilities, with a pristine playing surface and a spacious clubhouse that boasts all the accessories required by the modern player. He is full of praise for the many people who work so hard to ensure the club keeps progressing.
“It is a great club and a very progressive club. It is always promoting GAA to be best of its ability and trying to get as many games as possible for its players.
"There are so many people driving on things behind the scenes. There are always plenty of volunteers keen to help out.
"There is a great community spirit in the locality. It was nice to fly the flag and bring joy to the whole community last year.”
The Randal Óg junior footballers will begin the new season in the coming weeks with a Munster championship game against the Clare champions.
“It will be great to test ourselves against teams from outside the county. It is always nice to play new teams. It will be a great experience.”
The Randal Óg footballers will now compete in the Junior A football grade this year. The dual player is confident his colleagues will make the step up.
“We are hungry for more success. We had a taste of it last year and we are determined to achieve more success this year. I am confident we will do well in junior A football. We have a great bunch of young players who apply themselves well.”
He is very confident about the future of the Randal Óg club.
“Long term the future is bright. There is great work going on within the club. There is a great voluntary spirit and we have a strong panel of players.”