AS the senior men’s local football in Cork draws to a close this season, we look back on a great year with the added bonus of having a season completed for the first time in three years.
The covid disruptions hindered any real rhythm for most leagues so to have a full season completed this year was more than satisfying and recently I caught up with Rockmount stalwart goalkeeper Brendan O’Connell and here he tells about the delight of this year's success for the club.
“It’s been a great season for the club unbeaten in the league, and Intermediate cup champions,” said O’Connell.
"There is no doubt we would have taken that at the start of the season. After the past two seasons disrupted, nobody was certain of how things would go throughout the season, but thankfully we planned as usual and set our aims and to achieve them was fantastic.”
O’Connell played a pivotal role in Eddie Kenny’s side throughout the season and a stand out memory for most Cork people was the triumph in Turner's Cross of the FAI Intermediate Cup.
“I think winning the Intermediate cup for the first time in Turner's Cross with family and friends present was the highlight of the season.
"It was great for me personally to finally win the Intermediate cup.
"There was a lot of talk coming up to the final about me deserving a medal etc, and the fact I didn’t have a winners medal.
"I never lost any sleep about not having a medal but it’s nice all the same that I now have one on the bag!
“We as a team set many goals at the beginning of the season, with winning the league being our main objective from the start of the season. "We went unbeaten in the league with a record points total which is very satisfying and testament to the players and management.
“We had huge strength and depth this year with a nice blend of youth and experience.
"There were games where you looked at our bench and you would be saying to yourself, if those players were with any other club they would start every week, I think that has been key to our success.
"Credit to many of the lads who showed great patience throughout the year but as they now know, it takes an entire squad to achieve success and each and everyone of the lads played some role throughout the season.
“We played a lot of good teams this year, possibly Maynooth who we played in the Intermediate cup semi final were a very good team, we beat Inchicore in a last 16 tie and I thought they were a very good team too.
"We played Coachford in a friendly earlier in the year and I was very impressed with them so for me I believe it was a very competitive season, which is what you always want.”
When asked about his views on players going back and forth from the MSL and LOI, this is what O’Connell had to say.
“Frankly, I think the gap between MSL and LOI is not as big as people think.
"We have players in our ranks that could play LOI and I look at some LOI games and question how some of those teams might fare if they were in the MSL or LSL.
"We have benefited from the likes of Cian Leonard who returned from league of Ireland and scored lots of vital goals for us.”
O’Connell now has a haul of trophies, six MSL titles. One UEFA Regions Cup (2 runners up), one Intermediate Cup, three Collingwood Cups, four Michael Ward Trophies, one Munster Senior Cup, along with picking up an FAI player of the year in 2012 plus numerous of local cups, however, the netminder is not finished yet and in fact raring to go next season.
“Next season I hope to keep going and add another few medals and help Rockmount in any way that I can.
"At my age you can’t really stop for too long, so I will train away and stay ticking over, there are European qualifiers with Ireland in Bulgaria in October and I would hope to be part of that.
"It will be important for us as a team to stay hungry for success if we want to retain the league title.
"I think the age profile of the squad means that we can challenge and stay challenging for the next few seasons.”