Writes Ciaran Dineen
It has been quite an incredible six months for a number of young local soccer stars from Carrigaline, with players having huge success both at home and abroad.
First, we look to Stratford, London and Leyton Orient where Aaron Drinan has experienced undoubtedly his best year as a professional footballer. The former Ireland U21 International made a permanent move to Brisbane Road last year from Ipswich, following a number of loans over the past couple of years. Aaron has settled into life very well with the Orient, featuring in a total of 44 appearances over the season, 40 of which came in the league.
That is almost double the amount of professional games Aaron has played in one season and is more than twice the figure of games he has featured in the previous two years combined. He managed to score 13 goals as part of the league campaign and 16 in total for the season, which earned him the award of Captain’s Player of the Year at their end of season awards.
From London to Donegal, we go to Rob Slevin, who after enduring a horrific spell on the sidelines last year while at Cork City, has found himself featuring for Finn Harps on a regular basis in the League of Ireland Premier Division. The Carrigaline man and former Rochestown College student has admitted his surprise at receiving a call from Harps boss Ollie Horgan late last year, but Rob has grabbed the opportunity with both hands and has potentially turned his League of Ireland career around after the previous difficult season.
Moving back to Leeside, Alec Byrne, Gordon Walker, Josh Honohan and Mark O’Mahony have all had mixed experiences with Cork City FC so far this year. Both Alec and Gordon have faced lengthy spells out of action with long-term injuries. Both players will be looking to have much more of an impact in the second half of the season, having performed so well last year.
Josh Honohan has perhaps not featured as much as he would have liked so far this campaign, particularly given the fact that City have adopted a back-five at various parts of the season, however he has made a number of substitute appearances from the bench.
Without doubt the Carrigaline player who has stolen the show since February has been another teenage sensation, Mark O’Mahony. The Carrigaline Community School student made his debut for the club in March this year, coming off the bench against Longford Town. He made his full debut in a 2-1 win over Athlone in May, making a number of substitute appearances in between. The Irish U17 National star is sure to feature more and more as the season progresses, with City looking to secure a return to the topflight following their relegation to the First Division in 2020.