Skibb look to maintain momentum while Éire Óg relieved to avoid drop

“They have under-achieved and they know and they’ll take it from me but they won’t take it from people outside the camp. Tell them that they’re under-achievers and they’ll react to it."
Skibb look to maintain momentum while Éire Óg relieved to avoid drop

O'Donovan Rossa's Rory Byrne passes the ball clear as Dohenys' Keith White chases in Sunday's Bons Secours Hospital Cork SAFC game in Bantry. Picture: Denis Minihane

While one West Cork club bade farewell to the premier senior football grade at the weekend, another remains in the hunt to take the place has opened up.

On Saturday, Newcestown’s defeat to Éire Óg in the Bons Secours Hospital Premier SFC relegation play-off in Brinny meant that they will operate at senior A level in 2023. Then, on Sunday, O’Donovan Rossa got the better of Carbery rivals Dohenys in Bantry to set up a senior A semi-final tie with St Michael’s.

The Skibbereen side led all the way through a 0-13 to 0-8 triumph, but manager Gene O’Donovan wasn’t always able to relax.

“It was a typical Skibb performance,” he said, “it gave me about five heart attacks and I had heart surgery last year!

“That’s team, that’s what we’re trying to get into these fellas’ heads and trying to bring through the club, team, T-E-A-M. There was no individuals out there, they played as a team. Fellas came off the bench, they played as a team.

“I think we controlled the game for about 50 minutes. It’s something that we have to look at, because against Ilen Rovers and even against Newmarket, where we put up a big score, we left ourselves down for ten minutes in the second half of all of those games.

“If we can address that, I think we’ll be really hard to beat. We can now defend as well as attack.

“They didn’t all perform to 100 percent and they won’t mind me saying that. There are a few need to step it up again and they’re a happy bunch.”

The result sends Skibb into the last four, where they will go up against last year’s beaten finalists, St Michael’s. Having reached the semis in 2020, the West Cork men are eager to go one better.

“They were there a couple of years ago, against Éire Óg,” O’Donovan said.
“They know themselves, the boys who were there, that it wasn’t the greatest performance in the world.

“These boys are hurting because of the comments that were made and stuff being said about them.

“They have under-achieved and they know and they’ll take it from me but they won’t take it from people outside the camp. Tell them that they’re under-achievers and they’ll react to it.

“We’re really looking forward to the next day out.”

While there won’t be a next day out for Éire Óg this year, they have the satisfaction of finishing the campaign with a win – two wins, in fact, as they preserved their Premier IHC status the week before their 2-10 to 0-14 triumph against Newcestown in the PSFC.

For manager Harry O’Reilly, the over-riding emotion was relief.

“Neither of us wanted to be here today and I don’t like to see Newcestown going down either,” he said, “they’re a great club, a massive dual club and it’s a pity that they have to go down.

“I think the whole year has shown that it’s going to be really hard for dual clubs in the future, the way the leagues are structured with 18 weeks in a row, you’re knackered before you even get to the championship.

“We were missing seven players all year, we had a couple of them back and it made a huge difference. Newcestown were the same, they were decimated with injuries too.

“The lads were in the hurling relegation play-off last week and they won it, that was a big boost. They came in happy this week, which was great, but that game could have gone either way, there was nothing in it.

“Newcestown kept plugging away and got their points, they got a lot of frees but you’ll have that. We’re relieved to get out of it and hopefully get set again for next year, when we won’t have as many away or out injured.”

Ultimately, goals from former Kerry star Mark Griffin and Cork player Colm O’Callaghan were crucial.

“The goals were the difference,” O’Reilly said.

“We made hard work of the first one, we had an opportunity that was saved and then Mark got the ball and buried it. Colm’s goal was a great goal – a lot of space and a powerful man, he’s hard to stop when he’s running through like that.”

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