THERE WAS A silver lining on show as the curtain came down on a successful season in the junior ranks of the Kilkenny & District League, writes Trevor Spillane.
Players, managers and officials gathered in Rafter Dempsey’s on Friday to toast the winners of the 2011/12 campaign. Trophies and individual honours were handed out as the League reflected on another successful campaign.
“We had a lot of new successes domestically,” League chairman John Corrigan told the ’People. “Evergreen A retained the Premier Division title, but we had new winners in many of our other competitions. Callan won the McCalmont Cup and Evergreen A the Maher Shield, while Thomastown United A and Clover United are back in the top flight for next season.”
One chapter in the League’s success story came from a new addition to the local game.
“Urlingford have made great strides since joining the Kilkenny & District League,” said the chairman. “They won the Division Two Cup two years in a row, but this season they won the league and promotion to Division One. For a club that is only three years old it is a fantastic achievement.
“It was a mixed season for our other new teams,” he added. “St Ann’s did well to reach the Division Three Cup final, while Orchard Rovers settled into the league and made steady progress. St John’s and Gowran had difficult campaigns, but they have put in great work which they can build on for next year.”
It’s not just the newcomers who earned the plaudits.
“Clubs have worked very hard throughout the season and claimed their rewards,” Mr Corrigan added. “Freebooters (youths) and Tullaroan (women) were dominant in their respective competitions and won a treble apiece during the season, while others have made great strides. Evergreen C were relegated two seasons ago but bounced back by winning the Division Three league title.
“Newpark United A have also put in a lot of hard work but were desperately unlucky,” he said. “They were pipped for promotion in the league, lost a Maher Shield semi-final to a freak goal and suffered defeat in two Cup finals on penalties. They are sure to be in the shake-up of what could be a very competitive Division One next season.”
The chairman was also confident that the new campaign could see an upturn in fortunes at national levels.
Outside the League we had a disappointing season,” he said. “However, there are signs of positive changes. Ollie Walsh, our Oscar Traynor manager, had a great level of commitment from players and with better luck could so easily have won both of our games, especially the opener against Wexford (Kilkenny battled back from two down but lost 3-2).
“Ollie was reappointed as manager in March, which will help him to start next season’s preparations at an earlier date,” he added. “Some of last year’s squad have since moved on to the Airtricity League, meaning he will have to cast the net further afield for the new campaign, but there are great choices there to pick from.”
Away from teams, one positive for the League was the speed in which the season finished.
“Our fixtures ran very smoothly this season,” he said. “A lot of that was down to the weather - we had just one weekend where we lost all games to a blanket cancellation, whereas the season before six full weekends were scrapped through bad weather. It mean that our awards night was almost a month ahead of its regular time, giving everyone a longer break before the new campaign.”
It is expected that the new season will kick-off in late August.
Seasonal silverware - who won what
St Canice’s Premier Division - Champions: Evergreen A. Runners-up: Freebooters A. Relegated: East End United A, Deen Celtic A. Division One - Champions: Thomastown United A. Runners-up/promoted: Clover United A. Relegated: Freshford Town, Tullaroan. Eamon Maher Coach Hire Division Two - Champions: Urlingford. Runners-up/promoted: Highview Athletic. Relegated: East End United B, Gowran. Duiske Glass Division Three - Champions: Evergreen C. Runners-up/promoted: Newpark United B. Women’s Division One - Champions: Tullaroan. Runners-up: Bridge United. Women’s Division Two - Champions: Evergreen. Runners-up: St Joseph’s. Rafter Dempsey’s Youths’ League - Champions: Freebooters. Runners-up: Clover United.
KCLR McCalmont Cup - Winners: Callan United. Runners-up: Newpark United A. Maher Shield - Winners: Evergreen A. Runners-up: Freebooters A. Division One Cup - Winners: AC Kilkenny A. Runners-up: Newpark United A. Division Two Ken & Michael Byrne Memorial Cup - Winners: River Rangers. Runners-up: Thomastown United B. Division Three Cup - Winners: Bridge United B. Runners-up: St Ann’s. Bennettsbridge Parts Women’s Cup - Winners: Tullaroan. Runners-up: Thomastown United. Women’s Shield - Winners: Tullaroan. Runners-up: East End United. Buckley Youths’ Cup - Winners: Freebooters. Runners-up: Evergreen A. Henderson Youths’ Shield - Winners: Freebooters. Runners-up: Thomastown United.
Players of the Year - Premier Division: Joe Mulcahy (Evergreen A). Division One: Eamon Lyster (Thomastown United A). Division Two: Daniel Looby (Urlingford). Division Three: Eddie Wall (Newpark United B). Women’s Division One: Philomena Murphy (Bridge United). Women’s Division Two: Annie Dunne (Orchard Rovers). Youths’ League: Conor Keane (Freebooters).