Glenbeigh/ Glencar regain Mid Kerry title as Rangers wait goes on
AFTER a 36 year wait for the Michael O’Connor Cup between 1975 and 2011, Glenbeigh / Glencar have done more than enough to make up for the absence of a senior district title for the club in well over a generation.
Their fourth win in eight years last Sunday saw them move to nine Mid Kerry successes in total and back level with Beaufort in joint third in the role of honour. That it came at the venue of last Sunday’s opponents made it all the more significant, but for their manager Aidan O’Shea it marked a significant end to this run over the senior side.
O’Shea took the reins of the side in the aftermath of their 2015 County Junior Final defeat to Templenoe before going on to win the delayed staging of the 2015 competition in early 2016 against Milltown / Castlemaine at Sunday’s venue as well marking a significant start and finish for the All-Ireland Junior Club Championship-winning manager.
Last Sunday owed much to the long hard journey the club have travelled to places like Ennis and Croke Park in putting them in to the upper echelons of the county. Indeed, O’Shea put last Sunday’s win down to experience.
“Maybe we didn’t show it [experience] at times, but thankfully it was there when it mattered. We stuck at it throughout and the character was there when it mattered as there were a number of occasions when we could have folded during the match,” the outgoing Glenbeigh / Glencar boss said.
While disappointed with the first-half display in general O’Shea felt that one of the good things about it was the late points accrued to make it a twopoint game at half-time. He also felt Laune Rangers showed a lot of the promise that the Killorglin club’s underage revival is starting to bring with it.
“I think Laune Rangers have definitely turned a corner and are on the way up. With the young lads they have coming through they will definitely dominate this competition in years to come so it is important to win on days like today when they are on offer to you,” he said.
One interesting feature of Glenbeigh /Glencar’s win last Sunday was how it came without their usual scorer-in-chief Gavan O’Grady as well as a ream of injuries that affected their year in general.
“We definitely didn’t have it our own way this year when it came to injuries, Tommy Cahill
re-injured his hamstring in the Milltown / Castlemaine game and couldn’t train properly before today, the same with Pa Kilkenny and Seán Roche, but overall I am happy with how we salvaged the season because it would have been easy to throw in the towel halfway through when we were relegated from Division 1 and had all these injuries.
“The main thing though was that we were only losing a lot of matches by a score and thankfully what didn’t kill us then certainly made us stronger when it came to this time of the year,” O’Shea said about rescuing their season.
It’s easy to forget that Glenbeigh / Glencar were the only side to take a point off Dr Crokes in the County League this year despite their relegation and despite O’Shea confirming he is stepping away now from the role he still feels there is something for a new management to work with in 2019.
“You should have Darran [O’Sullivan], Pa [Kilkenny] and Gavan [O’Grady] back fully for next year, Gavan was only about a week away from making this game actually so there is plenty for the players to bounce back from at county level when they start again in the New Year.
“Overall as a management we are very happy with what we achieved over the last three years between two Mid Kerry titles, a Mid Kerry League and the All-Ireland Junior, it was something to be very proud of.”
The introduction of Arthur Fitzgerald to the set-up can be viewed as a boost as well alongside the efforts of Peter O’Sullivan, O’Shea and his brother Kieran as team physio. Aidan himself might well be considered a candidate for further managerial roles in the years to come but in general for Glenbeigh / Glencar they enter the final year of the decade with the chance to ensure half of its titles are theirs.
Only Milltown / Castlemaine (2010, 2012 and 2014) have the chance to match them, but realistically Beaufort and Laune Rangers appear to be their biggest threat in 2019 at local level.
With Mike Frank Russell and John Sheehan stepping away from the senior set-up this year, Laune Rangers fielded their first side of non-Mid Kerry winners last Sunday since the dominance of 1988-2006 when they won the competition 16 out of 19 times as part of their 28 wins in total.
John Tyther, Fiachra Clifford and Dáire Cleary should be at the forefront of their attempts to end a 13 year wait alongside Peter Crowley.
However, a more immediate priority must surely be getting straight out of Division 4 next year and starting the road back to where they were in their prime. Mid Kerry at senior level didn’t have a great year in general in 2018, but the competition remains fierce for local honours.
All bar Cromane have contested a Senior Final this decade in the district as they will hope there is some chance of challenging now Donnachadh Walsh has hung up the boots at inter-county level.
Whether or not it is ever dominated to the extent it was by Laune Rangers again is hard to say but the playing personnel is still there at present to keep the more rural clubs in contention in Mid Kerry.
The new Michael O’Connor Cup makes its first visit to the villages of Glenbeigh and Glencar and it certainly will take pride of place as the club gets ready to enter a new phase in 2019.
What didn’t kill us then certainly made us stronger when it came to this time of the year – Aidan O’Shea
Main: Glenbeigh Glencar Senior team celebrate their victory in the Mid Kerry Senior Championship final
Centre left: Ger Counihan of Bunkers Bar and Restaurant presenting the Man of the Match Award to Darran O’Sullivan Glenbeigh Glencar at the Mid Kerry Senior Championship final at JP O’Sullivan Park, Killorglin on SundayCentre right: Shane Daly, Laune Rangers caught by Seán Roche, Glenbeigh Glencar in the Mid Kerry Senior Championship final at JP O’Sullivan ParkPhotos by Michelle Cooper Galvin