MSL: Carrigaline can build on promising campaign with strong underage system

Huge playing numbers mean Carrigaline have a production line of talent that they hope will lead to landing the big prizes in the Munster Senior League
MSL: Carrigaline can build on promising campaign with strong underage system

Ronan Connolly, Carrigaline United, in MSL action against UCC. Picture: Larry Cummins.

AN IMPRESSIVE last year for Carrigaline has attracted more quality to their squad for the coming season.

Runners-up to Rockmount in the MSL Premier Division last season showed the potential for the young side and the hunger to gain success this season is very evident in the lead-up to the start of the campaign.

Recently I caught up with assistant manager Val Sexton and here he tells us about the highs and lows of last season and the aims for the coming season.

“Finishing as runners-up last season was a great achievement for us with a very much local-based squad,” said Sexton. “Rockmount had a tremendous season last year all credit to them as they are the benchmark both in the MSL and nationally and I expect the same from them this season.

“We did run them close in the league with a 1-1 draw at home for us. And from that game, that is the level of performance required if we want to compete at the business end of the season for silverware.”

With an earlier league start, Sexton and his side are well underway with preparations and there is a positive vibe amongst the squad.

Pre-season is going well at the moment. Our plan is to work hard on fitness over the next two or three weeks having a couple of weeks done up to now. 

"It’s been difficult with lads coming and going from holidays but there is a good buzz amongst the place at the moment and we’re looking forward to get going.”

 Dylan O'Flaherty, Carrigaline United, salutes Nathan Manson Browne, after scoring against College Corinthians. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Dylan O'Flaherty, Carrigaline United, salutes Nathan Manson Browne, after scoring against College Corinthians. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

While the team performed well last season, Carrigaline are always looking to add to their squad and this year is no different. With a few lads training at the moment with the squad, Sexton believes they will be a huge addition.

“We have a mixture of experience and youth in our current squad. Cian Kingston, Kalen Spillane, Jason Ring, Nathan Coleman, JamesMacSweeney, Richard Duggan and Nathan Mason Browne bring the experience, while the rest of the squad are 22 years old and under.

“But it’s great now that some of these lads have clocked up MSL miles now over the last three seasons so we are hopeful and maybe expect them to kick on now.

“While this time of the year teams would be looking to add to squads, we are the same. Killian Murphy is back from Holland, Nathan O’Connell, an exciting player is back in Carrigaline colours again having had a very successful time here at youth level. They are two quality guys.

“Ciaran Crotty and Cian O’Flaherty will be joining their brothers David and Dylan in the senior ranks from the youth levels which is also great.

“We hope these lads can add to our squad and improve on last season’s performances.

“Last year, while we enjoyed improvements made from the previous season, there were a couple of disappointing factors. Our Intermediate Cup run was hard going with just one home game and we didn’t get the luck in the draw, drawing three top LSL teams one at home and two away.”

This was both a drain in terms of cost and losing the opportunity to have big games in front of big crowds in Ballea Park.

“Maynooth in the quarter-final away was a hard one to take losing 2-1 after extra time. It was a tight game with some bizarre decisions in that game for both teams which brought a great cup run to an end.

“The seven-week period with no games around Christmas was also unfortunate for us as it stalled momentum but Covid played a part in that so understandable as well. It was a long season, probably 11 months in total but there was a lot we learned from it.

Having played and watched top LSL teams like Malahide United, Maynooth AFC and Killester Donncarney, the standard in the MSL is on par with them.

“The MSL is an extremely competitive league of serious quality, Rockmount and College Corinthians took the silverware last season and will be up there again but every team in the Premier League is very capable of beating each other so this should be an excellent season.

“Castleview and Blarney United up from the First Division will add to that quality as they are big clubs with a lot of tradition and both clubs have very good players.” 

ACADEMY

So while Sexton expects yet another competitive season, his main focus is on the performance of his own side.

“I would know most of our squad since they were young lads having coached in the academy and there is a well-structured pathway here in Carrigaline and that’s what we try to focus on mainly.

“The lads last season have made the senior team a very attractive ambition to get to for the many young lads playing for the club that come to watch us on Friday nights.

“Once again we have a good backroom staff of manager Tim Mawe, Damien Coleman, Brian Dinan, Alan Sheehan and Paudie O’Brien. All with the same aim, to grow our club. So while a lot of us were glad to see the long season end last year, it’s also good to get going again.”

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