Finbarr Buckley / Peter Travers (CBL) & Kenneth Gannon (Westport United)
Conor McKeown (@cmckeown_photographer_mayo)
Doolan’s Cow were formed in 2005 by Eamonn and Ciarán Murphy and entered the Cork Business & Shipping League in 2005/06 under the name of Island Tavern. The club won the O’Driscoll Premier Cup in 2008/09 beating Fermoy Nissan MCM in the final at Turner’s Cross . A name change to its present one of Doolan’s Cow brought a change in fortune and a first Mooney Cup Final appearance in 2012/13 where EMC ran out winners. The league and cup double was achieved in 2015/16 with the club’s most memorable and successful season to date coming in 2016/17 with the acquisition of all four domestic trophies, equalling Youghal Yarns’ feat of 1992/93.
The club won the championship for a third time last season and are on course to make it through to a fourth consecutive shield final. Denis O’Sullivan, Wayne Kavanagh and Robert Graham currently manage the team who play their home matches at Mayfield Community School (All-Weather). Doolans Cow beat their CBL rivals UCC United in the 4th Round of the FAI Junior Cup this year to get through to the open draw, which saw them end Leinster Senior League’s Valeview Shankill’s participation in the 5th Round last weekend. The Cow also put Munster Senior League Junior Premier Division joint leaders Everton to the sword in the 2nd Round of the Munster Junior Cup before Christmas after a 6-1 win in Mayfield. The glory will continue into Spring of 2020 where a semi final against Limerick Desmond side Rathkeale in the MFA League Champions Trophy is due to be played in February or March
Recently, 2 of Doolan’s current players Darren Geraghty & Tony O’Reilly were names in the CBL / EchoLive.ie Team of the Decade. Geraghty, captains the decades team from the centre of the park as he had done so effectively with his club in their double and quadruple winning seasons of 2016 and 2017. O’Reilly was the Premier Division’s top scorer on two occasions and along with his strike partner James Cotter, the two have claimed the majority of Doolan’s goals since their partnership flourished in 2015.
Westport United are set for the journey to Cork to take on Doolan’s Cow FC in the New Balance FAI Junior Cup on Sunday with a place in the last 16 of the prestigious competition at stake in what is expected to be a very tough tie for the 2005 winners of the competition.
Westport United were founded back in 1911, making them one of the oldest football clubs in Connaught and there has been records of football being played in the town as far back as 1889. The club has had a proud history, boasting numerous Mayo League, Cup and Divisional Cup titles sine the foundation of the Mayo League back in 1954. Westport United have won the Connaught Cup seven times; 1942, 1945, 1949, 1961, 1974, 1987 and 2012 and a Connaught Senior Cup in 2009. As aforementioned, Westport United’s sole FAI Junior Cup win came in 2005, following a 2-0 win against Waterford Crystal in Kilkenny.
Westport United has had a romantic relationship with the FAI Junior Cup throughout its history but its first major cup run actually came before “The Split”. Back in 1912, Westport United reached the semi final of the IFA Junior Cup following a famous win away to Irvinestown Wanderers in Fermanagh but unfortunately, due to lack of funds, had to give a walkover in the semi final. Following “The Split”, which saw the formation of the FAI, Westport United were affiliated to the new governing body, now operating from Dublin after separating from the Belfast-based IFA. It set in motion a love relationship with the biggest knockout competition in the country and there were many memorable cup runs with appearances in the last 16 and quarter finals a common feature with tales of legendary trips around the country by the large travelling support plus the huge crowds that would turn up at home games. Westport United reached the semi final of a national competition for the first time sine 1912 when they took on Talbot United at home in the 1969 penultimate match and were defeated 2-0. While Westport United had a lean spell in the competition enforced by playing in the Connaught Senior League between 1988 and 1995, the FAI Junior Cup revival kicked off in earnest back in 2001 and the club have reached at least the last 64 every season bar three since then. Westport United reached the quarter final for the first time since 1969 when they lost on penalties to Southend of Waterford in 2003 but the Holy Grail arrived in Westport back in 2005 following that famous 2-0 win against Waterford Crystal. Westport United negotiated past Ballina Town, Crossmolina, Inver United, Tralee Dynamoes, Leeside AFC, Pike Rovers, Killester FC, Carew Park and ultimately Waterford Crystal. Over 2000 people travelled from Westport to Kilkenny for the final and a special train was laid on. For the homecoming that night, over 5000 people thronged The Octagon to welcome home their heroes. Since then, Westport United have remained competitive and last season reached the quarter final before losing after extra time to Aisling Annacotty.
Westport United are managed by Mickey Feeney and boasts a very good backroom team, one of whom is Padraig Burns, who managed the team in the 2005 success alongside Kevin Cusack. Out of the players, David Cameron (who is currently injured), Shaun Tagg and Joe Lawless are the only survivors of the FAI Junior Cup squad, though a number hold Connaught Cup medals from 2012. The captain and goalkeeper is Gary Cunningham and Joe Lawless is still a colossus in defence. The midfield is young and energetic and in attack, the team boasts Club and Mayo Super League Footballer of the Year, Darren Browne. Browne and Cunningham have been capped by their country alongside Cillian McGlade and Joe Lawless, which adds an extra dimension to the side, but the last of Lawless’ caps came back in 2006. In the last couple of seasons, the side has been in transition with a number of younger players breaking through and making a great impression for the Red and Black. It is worth noting that two of our players have Cork connections; the aforementioned Gary Cunningham’s maternal family are from Cork while a cousin of Phil Keegan plays for Doolan’s Cow FC, which will add a bit of interest on the pitch but both players in particular will no doubt get a very special Leeside welcome. United’s run to the last 32 were complimented by wins against Iorras Aontaithe, Ballina Town, Ballyhaunis Town and Balscadden FC. Westport United is undoubtedly looking forward to this tie and a large number of the Red and Black Army who support the team will be making the journey south to cheer on the team, which will be complimented by many more tuning into the live stream on the club’s Facebook page.
This weekend is also a poignant time as this will be the first anniversary of Adam Mulchrone’s last match with Westport United, though a substitute in a 1-0 win against Usher Celtic in the same stage of the competition as this weekend before his untimely passing last year and Adam is forever in the thoughts of all involved with the club.
Finally, Westport United extends its best wishes to Doolan Cow FC on Sunday and the club is looking forward to a great game of football and as the old cliché says, may the best team win. Whatever happens on the pitch, this competition has forged many friendships between Westport United and other clubs and may Sunday form more new friendships.
The FAI New Balance Junior Cup 6th Round tie between Doolans Cow Bar FC & Westport United FC will take place this Sunday January 12th 2020, with a kick off time of 1pm in Mayfield Community School.