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Grattan Utd Nov 1984
for more old pics, go to http://corksoccerpics.blogspot.com

"the AUL clubs seem to be enjoying somewhat of a renaissance and the rest of the country seems to be taking a lot more notice."

by Gavin O'Mahony

Well the season has ended for all but a few and once again we have against the odds won the Cork AUL Premier. Last season had its highs and lows and were new to me and I certainly enjoyed them but to go on a similar trip this season made it better again.

We had a great preseason this time around an our expectations were high but after 2 wins in the Mossie Castleview gave us a wakeup call to knock us out of the reckoning an it shook us somewhat. Our first 3 league games were draws and with Kinsale a Ballyphehane winning the first 3 it didn’t look good for us in the league.

Thankfully the FAI and MJC came at the right time for us an allowed us to get ourselves together again. The FAI threw us up hard game after hard game and it was a slog just to get to the open round.

Clonmel Celtic we dispatched and an away trip to New Ross was our thanks. We went 2 behind and fought our way back to equalise in the dying seconds and snatched a memorable victory on penos.

Next we were given a home tie against Castlebar from Mayo with the winners given a home draw in the quarterfinals. We started brightly, maybe too brightly and against the run of play we conceded (something which was to happen to us on quite a few occasions this season).

Again we fought back playing great attacking football and equalised with 2 mins left. Controversy followed and even with the extra man we couldn’t seem to get the ball into the Castlebar net. Penos came and went and we were out. The luck we had in New Ross didn’t come home with us and our dreams of the FAI were left in tatters again.

The MJC proved to be our strikers’ happy hunting ground with no less than 28 goals being scored in our first 5 games and all away from home. Away games to Kilmallock (Limerick) and Newtown (Clare) will be remembered for the fantastic finishing of our strikers and the all-round play of the team.

The Newtown game especially as Figo, Brian Sull and Shinky didn’t make the start of the game and it just showed the strength of our squad that we still got a fantastic result away from home.

The quarter final draw matched us with Ballynanty away in Limerick an again although we were in top form on the day an took a deserved lead we again conceded a sloppy goal with only 7 mins left in the game and in extra time pushing for the winner were caught twice on the break an went down 3/1 in aet.

I must say we were devastated after that game because after we went out of the FAI we thought we had a genuine chance of winning the MJC. We played very well on the day in both the FAI and MJC, but we learned important lessons from both defeats which will make us stronger next season.

With only the AOH and an outside chance of the league left to play for we gave the AOH our all and in the semi final we drew our rivals for just about everything in the AUL, Kinsale, up in our own place. Again we played well and came away with nothing as again after taking the lead we conceded 2 soft goals against the run of play.

While all the fun of the FAI and MJC was going on the rest of the Premier was getting along with their games and when we returned to league action we were 2nd bottom with 3 points from 3 games. Runaway leaders Glenthorn were followed by Leeside and Kinsale with Ballyphehane within touching distance and us bottom dwelling with Kanturk.

15 games later and out of a possible 45 points we took 40 to regain the league title. By any standards that is a fantastic achievement but to do it with the bad start we had in the league was astounding.

For every up there is a down and for our club our B side had to pay a heavy price for our A side's hopes. Weeks and weeks went by when their games were called off to ensure our A fixtures went ahead and form then was harder to pick up.

The step up in divisions didn’t pose a problem just the lack of games dwindled the squad from a strong 22 down to the bare 11 at the end and staying up just proved a bridge to far.

Sometimes what our A side can or do achieve can detract from the other achievements we reach over the season both on an off the pitch. We finally received full planning permission for our new dressing rooms having been stuck in red tape for some time and comes as a welcome relief.

Also this season we were honoured again with one of our players Pa Connors being selected to represent his country on the Irish junior side. We also had 6 players selected for Oscar Traynor duty, the O’Sullivan brothers Mark/John Paul and Dave, John Kelleher/Pa Connors and Brian O’Sullivan.

Hopefully this is something we can come to expect in light of the way our A side has been performing. We can now sit at the top table of junior clubs in Ireland and hold our head high. Cork football and especially the AUL clubs seem to be enjoying somewhat of a renaissance and the rest of the country seems to be taking a lot more notice.

Finally I would like to take the chance to thank a few people, my fellow committee members for all the hard work, much of which goes unnoticed an unthanked. To Pat Caulfield and Robbie O’Callaghan for their outstanding efforts this season with the A team To Edwin Martin for all the hard work he put in during a very long hard season for the B team.

To Richie Brown for his fantastic support and Martin O’Leary for keeping our pitch in superb condition. To Niall Burns of the Anglers Sports Lounge and his fantastic staff who supported us all the way a special word of thanks. Win, lose or draw ye always managed to cheer us up an to cap it all off the people who support us home or away in the rain or shine, Mick O’Sullivan and the Brooks brothers to name but a few.