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Beara senior football team needs buy-in from players or team faces an uncertain future

June 6th, 2024 8:00 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Beara senior football team needs buy-in from players or team faces an uncertain future Image
Beara's Fintan Finner holds off the challenge of Carbery's Kevin Keohane during the 2022 Cork PSFC divisions/colleges semi-final. This was the last time Beara competed in the county championship.

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BY KIERAN McCARTHY

WHEN the Beara senior football team reached out to its local clubs in early May to gauge interest levels ahead of the county championship, the response wasn’t positive.

The plan was to get a panel together before the divisions/colleges unseeded football championship began in June, but a lack of buy-in from clubs means Beara won’t kick a ball in the county championship for the second season in a row

Add in the 2020 and ’21 campaigns when Beara also didn’t field a team in the county senior football championship, and the western division has not played in FOUR of the last five seasons. That’s a real cause for concern in Beara, as is the lack of buy-in from clubs in the division.

Carbery's Rory O'Connor gets to grips with Beara's Jason Harrington during their 2022 clash.

‘When we went looking for players we reached out to the different clubs in early May for training and we didn't get positive news. There were zero players available from three of the six clubs. To be honest, we couldn't get the necessary panel of 20-plus players to fulfill the fixtures and make a meaningful effort,’ Beara GAA Secretary Joseph Blake said.

‘In early May a meeting took place with Michael Murphy (Beara chairman), Andrew Fitzgerald (manager), myself and the clubs in the division. We asked those attending the meeting to go back to their clubs and see how lads felt about playing for Beara and the numbers coming back were small so we didn’t see us having the numbers to make a worthwhile commitment. Players use the month of June to go on holidays ahead of the championship in July while there are some players who have gone to America for a few months.’

Adrigole clubman Blake believes that the local clubs – Adrigole, Bere Island, Castletownbere, Garnish, Glengarriff and Urhan – need to support the divisional team if it is to survive, stressing that the Beara board ‘will have a manager and the necessary support and will not be found wanting in that aspect.’ Unless the clubs and players within the division pull together, the Beara senior team faces an uncertain future.

‘I think there has to be buy-in from the players and they have to realise that all that is required is a small bit of extra work,’ Blake explained.

‘Back in 2022 the Beara senior football team trained six times and ran a total of zero laps. There was no need as the players were fit from training with their clubs, so the training sessions weren't intense, but it will be short and sharp and of high quality as players are training with best players in the division.

‘There are probably ten lads or more from Beara who have played Cork minor since 2010 putting them in their prime, and they should be driving this but it hasn't happened. We don't have hurling in Beara, but there are players in dual clubs who are scheduled to play league 18 weeks in row putting their hands up to play with their divisions.’

Blake feels there is an appetite for the Beara senior football team, pointing to the division’s 2023 AGM when clubs agreed to put their weight behind the set-up, but that didn’t materialise ahead of the county championship throw-in. Beara were due to play three games in the weeks ahead, against Muskerry, Avondhu and Imokilly, though the latter also pulled out of the championship last week.

‘If you ask any Beara person if they would like to see a Beara senior football team, the answer is yes. If you ask people at a Beara AGM if they would like a Beara team, the answer is yes. Last year a club chairman at the AGM said Beara would have his club's “fullest support”, but are the people in the room willing to do all they can in their clubs to get players to line out for Beara?’ Blake asked.

There are talented footballers in Beara, Blake insists, pointing to the performances of several local clubs in their 2023 county championships – Castletownbere were in the semi-finals of the premier intermediate championship, Adrigole got to the last four in the intermediate A competition, while Urhan were in the semi-finals of the premier junior championship. But a declining playing population in the rural division is a real cause for concern.

‘There will always be quality footballers in Beara but the playing pool is getting smaller and smaller,’ Blake says.

‘Most clubs are very competitive in their grades in the county championships with some getting to county semi-finals last year and with a small bit of luck on the day, some Beara teams could have been in Páirc Uí Chaoimh playing in county finals. But when you scratch below that surface you will find serious challenges in terms of fielding teams.

‘We are lucky that the minors are allowed to play junior B because without them some teams wouldn't be able to put out a junior B team. My own club played a junior B league game in Drimoleague recently, we had 18 togged off, six of whom were minors, so without those six players we wouldn't have been able to field that night.

‘Our B team is giving game time to players who might not get much game time with the intermediates. That's why I spoke numerous times at county board meetings to try and get some compromise for smaller clubs and gladly the county executive listened and an agreement was reached.

‘But it is not all doom and gloom in Beara, there is an exciting crop of young lads coming through. The U16s won the county U16 Premier 2 two years ago and we should have a good U21 team this year with this team winning the U19 two years ago but there are no guarantees regarding the U21s as Beara will need buy-in from the players and from the clubs.’

 

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