📝 Finbarr Buckley

SCS CROOKSTOWN UNITED’S League and Cup Double in their first season was one of the highlight of the Cork Business League’s (CBL) 67th season, writes Finbarr Buckley.

Final Premier Division standings here

Final First Division standings here

The season opened on Sunday, September 2nd with the CBL Shield competition and despite losing Alpha SüD, The Blackrock Inn, who would return later in the season but leave again, and Ryan’s Super Valu (Glanmire), six new clubs joined the ranks and were spread over the five group sections. After  Satellite Taxis eliminated Dalton’s Pharmacy in the only last eight encounter, the holders overcame  Dell EMC in the first semi-final 3-1 to meet last season’s beaten finalists Doolan’s Cow who triumphed over group three surprise package, Cork Hospitals in the afternoon tie at The Farm. The final on Sunday, November 25th at Turner’s Cross was another close contest between the two rivals which went all the way to extra-time before Satellite emerged victorious following a 3-1 shoot-out win to retain the league’s  opening competition.

In the Premier Division, Quinlan’s Bar got off to a blistering start to go five matches unbeaten and open up a six point lead over defending champions UCC United by mid-November, stretching their lead to a sizeable nine points over the champions by the turn of the year. At the opposite end of the table Cork International and Marlboro Trust had failed to register a win before the Christmas break and looked set for a tough road ahead to stay in the top flight.

By early February twice winners in the last three seasons, Doolan’s Cow, had pulled up to within two points of the leaders with a match in hand with UCC in third following a significant win over Satellite at Deerpark School. Goals from Liam Horgan and Aaron Hennessy cancelled out Shane Dorgan’s 25th minute lead to blow the title race wide open with half the league programme still to be played.

The following week Doolan’s took over at the top for the first time after a big win over struggling Marlboro Trust and further confirmed their championship credentials by inflicting a first defeat on Quinlan’s, Horgan and Brian Harris this time among the goals after Danny O’Donoghue had earlier cancelled out Horgan’s 55th minute opener. The icing on the cake would come in late March when the in-form leaders would strengthen their grip at the top with another win over Quinlan’s and UCC to seal a third title with a 4-1 win over Healy O’Connor Solicitors at Garryduff. UCC and Satellite finished level in runners-up spot while at the bottom Trust survived the drop at Cork International’s expense to preserve their twenty year tenure in the top flight.

Cork Eagles were the early pacesetters in the First Division before being overtaken by 20/20 Glazing in the run up to Christmas. An impressive run of form by Co. Council took them to pole position in early March where they stayed till a resurgent Crookstown United,  driven on by  Colm Crowley  and a watertight defence superbly marshalled by goalkeeper and secretary Tim Irwin, won the second head to head against Council to claim their first title following a 5-2 win over third-placed OBS. United’s magnificent achievement of sixteen wins out of their twenty matches and only two defeats gave them an eight point cushion at the finish over nearest challengers Co. Council.

Title contenders Crookstown and Council looked set to lock horns in the Frank Linehan First Division Cup Final after quarter –final wins over Cork Eagles and Abtran kept the favourites apart in the semi-finals. Although Crookstown advanced to their first final after a 3-1 win over Dalton’s Pharmacy, Council slipped up, losing 1-0 to OBS. The final at Turner’s Cross on Sunday, May 29th was deservedly won by Crookstown who scored three times without reply in the second 45 to seal a 4-1 triumph.

I wish to thank my fellow committee for their assistance throughout the season. Congratulations to all our trophy winners, competing teams, managers and supporters, sponsors Sports Gear Direct and JSK Eco Cleaning Solutions for their contributions to making 2018/19 another memorable season and wish all continued success in the new campaign. Thanks also to Evening Echo Sports Editor John McHale and his team at the Picture Desk for the excellent coverage we received throughout the past twelve months.

The first delegate meeting of 2019/20 will take place on Tuesday, August 6th at Turner’s Cross (7.30pm). Further details from Hon. Secretary Peter Travers on (086) 3450963 or    info@corkbusinessleague.ie