CASTLEHAVEN manager James McCarthy admits that injured Cork forward Brian Hurley is not in their plans for Sunday’s 2020 Cork Premier SFC final against Nemo Rangers.
Hurley injured his hamstring late on in Castlehaven’s Cork Credit Unions Football League 2 Play-off final win against Newmarket earlier this month. He had already racked up 2-6 in the game before limping off injured, and his injury is a huge setback for Castlehaven.
‘Brian pulled his hamstring three weeks ago and his physio told us at the time that he’s out for eight to 12 weeks,’ Castlehaven manager James McCarthy told The Southern Star.
‘That situation has not changed since then. Knowing Brian’s injury history, we have been minding him and hoping to get him back for the (2021) county championship.
‘It is very disappointing for Brian after putting in such a great shift against Kerry in the Munster football final. He was looking forward to the county final and flying it in training until he pulled up with his hamstring injury. Brian is mentally strong and working away but, at the moment, he is not in our thinking for the county final.’
For the Castlehaven management team, keeping a rearranged county final at the forefront of their players’ minds, considering everything going on off the pitch, has never been an issue.
‘We had no plans for this year simply because of Covid,’ McCarthy said.
‘I had managers ringing me from other counties talking about the same situation. Zoom ran out of oil after a while and because our lads had no social life, GAA was all they had to focus on. I believe the GAA actually saved a lot of people’s mental health and not just in Castlehaven. The GAA were up front and did everything possible to keep people, from underage to senior, ticking over.
‘Other managers have spoken about this as well but being back playing football was and is the biggest thing. Getting back out on a pitch was the first step. It was hard during the winter and the long, dark nights. Running roads on your own as a player isn’t the nicest thing to be doing. ‘That’s why I’m delighted to be working with this group of players. They had something to aim for even though the county final date kept getting pushed out. Their morale never dipped. It was up to us (management) to gauge the fitness side of things but morale was never a problem.
‘We never gave anyone false hope. The truth is we have been building up towards this year’s county championship as we are out a week after the county final. So, no, motivation has never been a problem.’
A familiar name stands between McCarthy and Castlehaven’s hope of championship glory. Nemo Rangers have won three of the last five county finals including a memorable triumph over their West Cork rivals following a replay in the 2015 decider.
Prior to that, Castlehaven edged the county’s record senior championship winners (21 titles) in the 2013 final, 0-16 to 1-11. Those results count for nothing heading into the 2020 final but, clearly, a huge amount of respect exists between the two clubs.
‘Nemo and ourselves have great history going back over the years,’ McCarthy said.
‘They beat us in 2015 when we thought we should have won it. That was our own fault, we had our chances and the winner takes all in the end. In 2013, that was an unbelievable match. That county final turned into a shootout that could have gone either way. If you look at how to play football then that county final is the way to play it.
‘This will be a lot of our lads first experience of a county final and will bring them on. We want to win it. Nemo will bring what they always bring, good, quality football and I’d be hoping they say the same about us.’