SKIBBEREEN Community School captured the Simcox Cup for the first time after they defeated Clonakilty Community College by one point following a thrilling final played in Rosscarbery.
Skibbereen Community School held off a valiant comeback from their local rivals who netted two goals in the closing stages to restore parity. Two late points from Niall Daly and Oisin Daly propelled the Skibbereen secondary school footballers to county final glory.
The Skibbereen school senior football team were coached to county final glory by their coach David Whelton who plays his club football with Castlehaven.
Whelton said a key factor in their success was the ‘belief’ they had in their game plan.
“It was a great win. We were delighted with the performance. The key ingredient for this success was the belief in our ability and game plan. Thankfully, our best performance all year came in the final. We were fortunate the Cork minor management allowed our full-back Shane O'Connell to play, and he set the tone for a great performance,” he said.
Their proud coach hailed the character and resilience his charges displayed in the aftermath of the stirring late comeback from Clonakilty Community College and for bringing their season to a successful conclusion after their Corn Uí Mhuirí campaign ended in disappointment.
“We showed excellent character throughout the team. Our substitutes that came on also made a big impact.
An example of this was when Thomas O’Mahony caught a great kick-out and carried the ball 40 yards which resulted in a score from Niall Daly.
"They could have easily folded after the Corn Uí Mhuirí disappointment, but they put it behind them and put everything into winning the Simcox Cup.”
Skibbereen Community School which was established in 2016 is an amalgamation of three secondary schools in the locality. The Castlehaven club man who has thrived in his first managerial role hopes the Simcox Cup will ‘inspire’ the young players on the panel to enjoy more success going forward.
“Winning the county title is a wonderful achievement for the school. It sets a great example for the younger year groups and hopefully, it will inspire them to achieve more glory over the next few years.
“1997 was the last time the Simcox Cup was won by St Fachtna's, De La Salle and when you see the wonderful footballers the area has produced in the last 25 years it's mad to think it has taken so long to win this county title again.
"To see the joy on his face after we won was a joy to behold,” he added.
He is enthused by the availability of several of this year’s panel for next year’s Corn Uí Mhuirí and Simcox Cup campaigns.
“This year's group was very talented. Robbie Minihane, Sean Browne, Thomas O' Mahony, and Jamie O' Driscoll will not be easily replaced. The quartet enjoyed a wonderful year, and it was a joy to see them develop and grow in confidence.
"I believe the future is looking very bright for the school, however. Niall Daly and Jack O'Neill who were Cork minors last year are eligible again next year. They are very classy footballers.
The 24-year-old teacher is loving his coaching role with the Skibbereen Community School senior football team. The Castlehaven senior footballer said he ‘loved’ the coaching aspect and being involved with such a driven group of players.
“I have loved every second of being involved with these lads. They have been a pleasure to work with. There is a strong bond within the group, and we had great craic at training all year.
"It was great to be involved with such a driven group. I loved the coaching aspect as well as helping to develop young players. Being on the sideline for big championship games is something I see myself doing for many years to come as I am very passionate about football.
“Appointing Robbie Minihane as the captain made life a lot easier for me as he was a key leader. Having the experience of Colman O’Driscoll alongside me was so beneficial for me as he has great knowledge and is an excellent person to bounce ideas off. Going on a good run in the Corn Uí Mhuirí and then winning the Simcox Cup exceeded all my expectations.
"I was lucky that the players believed what I was saying to them, believed in their ability and really gave 100% all year. That gave us a great platform. There is no substitute for hard work, however.
"I told the lads after the county final that no matter where they go in life, they will never forget this win and the bond they established with their team-mates. They will always cherish this special achievement. It gives me great pleasure to say I contributed to it."