League champs Rockmount can land first FAI Intermediate Cup in 14 years

"We’ve 25 players and you keep them happy by winning games,” explains manager Eddie Kenny
League champs Rockmount can land first FAI Intermediate Cup in 14 years

Rockmount's Cian Leonard wins the ball from Cobh Wanderers Diarmuid Kearney during the Munster Senior Cup clash at Rockmount Park. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

TWELVE months on from the start of their season, Rockmount will walk out in Turner’s Cross and contest the 2022 FAI Intermediate Cup final.

They will do so on the back of a historic year which has seen the squad challenge for unprecedented quadruple honours.

Rockmount lead the title race in the Munster Senior League and are into the semi-finals of the Munster Senior Cup, where they will face League of Ireland side Cobh Ramblers. The club have also progressed in the O’Connell Cup.

They would be challenging for seven trophies if not for penalty shoot-out defeats to College Corinthians and UCC in the Keane Cup and Donie Forde Trophy. They were also beaten by College Corinthians in the Beamish Stout Senior Cup.

Ahead of the Intermediate Cup final, Rockmount manager Eddie Kenny said: “It’s been a decent season but we lost the final of the Keane Cup on penalties.

“In the Donie Forde Trophy, we also lost on penalties. It has been a decent season but saying that, the next two to three weeks is the most important part.

It’s been a long 12 months. We’ve been back since May 15, 2021, and all the good work that has gone in could be thrown out if we don’t do what we need to do.

“It’s going to be a busy few weeks for us but this is why you want to be involved in football,” he said.

Rockmount’s ambition can be attributed to a well-oiled system that has everyone working in tandem.

“In fairness, the staff have been very good with the team,” he said. “They’ve been very good with training. They’ve got us fit. Then they kept things fun so that people don’t think it’s all the same thing.

“There is a huge squad there. We have about 25 there at the moment. One or two came in during the season and one or two left.

We’ve around 25 players. You keep them happy by winning games. The more games you have, it makes life that bit easier.”

Michael Foley, Munster Senior League, presents the Beamish Stout Team of the Month award for November to Barry Kelleher, Rockmount chairman. Also included are Rockmount senior team manager Eddie Kenny and Laura Power Quintana Bar.
Michael Foley, Munster Senior League, presents the Beamish Stout Team of the Month award for November to Barry Kelleher, Rockmount chairman. Also included are Rockmount senior team manager Eddie Kenny and Laura Power Quintana Bar.

The squad which has made the people of Whitechurch dream of a quadruple is filled with talent.

In their ranks are a number of ex-League of Ireland players including Cian Murphy and Cian Leonard, who both played for Cobh Ramblers.

They also have goalkeeper Brendan O’Connell, who has almost 70 amateur Irish caps to his name.

This is a settled squad and a group where everyone knows their place.

Kenny knows this is a big factor in his side’s quest to bring silverware to Whitechurch.

EXPERIENCE

“There’s a few in the squad with League of Ireland experience,” he said.

“Christopher McCarthy and David Browne played with Cobh. About 10 or 11 as well are current or ex-Irish amateurs or juniors.

“There’s a huge level of experience there and the lads have bought into that.

“The lads like Kevin Hoey and Brendan O’Connell, they’ve won leagues and intermediate cups. They’ve a lot of experience. Players like Cian Leonard and Cian Murphy, they have experience in playing in the League of Ireland.

“It’s a nice rounded squad, with the experienced lads and the young players who have no fear. They don’t see clubs or players, they just want to go out and do their best. They motivate the senior lads and the senior lads keep them in check.”

This group will be tasked with ending a short-term famine in Whitechurch, which has gone on since 2016. That year the team win both the Keane Cup and Donie Forde Trophy, a neat double for the club.

It took Rockmount four years to win another trophy and this was the Munster Senior Cup.

That was one competition that the 98-year-old club had never won, and they completed their honours list by beating Cork City 2-0 in the final at Turner’s Cross. While this went some way towards satisfying their hunger for success, there was still a craving for more.

This is because the club last lifted a league title in 2015 and the Intermediate Cup has not come to Rockmount Park in 14 years. Regardless of their recent history, no expectations were put on the club going into this season.

“In fairness to the committee, when I took over this year, they didn’t really put us under any pressure,” Kenny said.

“There’s been no pressure to deliver at any stage from the club. Under Billy [Cronin], we always said to put a trophy on the board.

“So there is a small bit of pressure there. But the club haven’t said we must win the league or an intermediate cup. We’re a new management team who have just come in. We have our ideas how we want to play.

“We brought in different players on top of the players who already were there,” said Kenny.

We always said that there would be a bedding-in process and we would see in January where we were.

“After January we were up at the top of the table and we were still in the intermediate cup. There was a case then of making sure that there was a trophy on the board and let’s prioritise the different competitions.”

A big boost to Rockmount during this run-in is that the intermediate cup final will be held in Turner’s Cross, the home of football on Leeside.

Kenny hopes that the people of Cork come out that day to support his team as they look to bring the trophy back to Leeside.

“We’re a northside club and we’re hoping to get a few people from there,” he said. “Hopefully a few southsiders will come out and unify the city. It’s a huge occasion.”

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