Castletownbere can finally go the distance

EIGHTY-SIX miles separates the GAA club in Castletownbere and the Páirc Uí Rinn pitch where they hope to claim the Cork intermediate football trophy against Kinsale tomorrow afternoon.

But a journey of over two hours will not be a deterrent to the Beara side as they have grown accustomed to lengthy treks with their squad scattered all over the country.

“We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for the phenomenal dedication and commitment these players have shown,” says Castletownbere manager Morgan O’Sullivan. “There’s only 14 of our panel based at home in Castletownbere. Of the rest of them, you’ve six or seven in Cork city, the same number based around Dublin and then Ciarán Murphy is in college in Belfast. But they have huge interest in playing football for Castletownbere.”

As a result the club seldom use their own pitch for training and are indebted to the kindness of clubs in West Cork.

“Between the lads in Castletownbere and the lads in Cork, we try to get together at least once a week,” reveals O’Sullivan. “But we do that in a variety of venues between home and the city. There’s seven venues we use – Cloughduv, Ballyvourney, Ballingeary, Kilmichael, Kealkil, Dunmanway and Tadhg MacCarthaigh’s. The co-operation we’ve got from all those clubs has been fantastic and if it wasn’t for them being so helpful, it would be very hard for us to keep it going. The lads in Dublin and Ciarán in Belfast then do their own work. They’re not able to make all our league games but they make as much as they can. We’re lucky in that the older lads like Alan O’Regan, who’s in his 19th adult season, and Donagh Wiseman, who’s in his 17th adult season, continue to make the effort and that’s rubbed off on the younger fellas.”

Fuelling the dedication of the Castletownbere players has been the desire to win a county intermediate title. It is 25 years since they managed that feat with a victory in the decider over Kilshannig. Since then they have suffered final heartbreak against Macroom in 1990, Douglas in 1997, Naomh Aban in 1999 and Ballingeary in 2006. The latter two defeats arrived after replays to compound the agony. Alan O’Regan and the Wiseman brothers, Donagh and Enda, are survivors from that 1999 defeat and their manager detects a serious determination to address that sequence.

“We’ve suffered our disappointments but kept battling back. This year we’ve been through a lot of tough and hard games against Fermoy, Adrigole, Aghabullogue and Cloyne. But the lads have found a way to win each day. I think the experience of getting to the semi-final last year where we lost to the eventual champions Macroom has helped us. These lads have won a lot with Beara, lifting county titles at minor and U21 level, so there’s plenty experience there.

“The mix of youth and experience has probably been the key for us this year. We’ve some very good young players who have emerged in the last few years and are now playing for our intermediate team. That’s a sign of the good structures we have in the club and the work that’s been put in. A win tomorrow would be brilliant both as a reward for the players and all they’ve put into it, and in helping keep younger players interested in playing football.”

* THE Cork SFC final between Castlehaven and UCC will be televised live by TG4 on Sunday, October 16 from 3.15pm. The Irish language broadcaster will then have full deferred coverage of the Tipperary SHC decider between Drom and Inch and Clonoulty Rossmore from Semple Stadium. Tomorrow the station has live coverage of the replayed All-Ireland Ladies junior and intermediate finals at Croke Park.

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