BY JOHNNY CAROLAN
CASTLEHAVEN manager James McCarthy feels that the club’s medium-term future is bright – and victory over Ballincollig in Sunday’s Bon Secours Hospital Cork Premier SFC quarter-final would show that the present is quite good, too.
Enniskeane is the venue at 4pm on Sunday as the Haven chase what would be a fourth straight semi-final against St Finbarr’s. While McCarthy has no problems with the relatively short trip eastwards, he wouldn’t have minded heading to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, either.
‘It’s a bit of both,’ he says.
‘We’re happy out to be playing in Enniskeane. Their pitch is super and I was there for the Clon-Ross game and there were no problems at all.
‘In saying that, for the experience of young lads playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the more you can get in there, the better.
‘We just love going up to Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Even if you play a quarter-final there and get beaten, you’ve earned that by getting out of the group stages.
‘As a country team, every chance we get to go to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, we’ll grab it with both hands.’
Given that the Cahalane brothers, Damien, Conor and Jack, were in hurling action for St Finbarr’s last weekend and Cathal Maguire missed the last group match, a win over Clonakilty, the focus is on freshness between games.
‘We give them every chance, we don’t push them at all,’ McCarthy says.
‘It’s about recovery and getting what we can out of them. They don’t do much training, only a kick of a ball and away for road again then.
‘It’s more about managing the load than actual training.
‘We’ve had a good string of injuries, we never had a full panel to pick from.
‘It’s unlikely it’ll be this weekend again, but we’re getting closer.’
One positive side-effect of the absences is that it has allowed the Haven to give game-time to younger players.
‘We’ve seven lads that have played championship this year that are U21,’ McCarthy says.
‘Now, Jack Cahalane is included in that, even though he seems to have been around forever.
‘We’re delighted with that. Four or five of the boys that were on the Simcox Cup team with Skibbereen Community School are starting now for us and Micheál Maguire is another young prospect that has played championship this year, he’s only 18.
‘The future is looking good for us as a club; we have good numbers.’
In that regard, McCarthy – employed by Cork County Board as a games development co-ordinator – would love to see the Carbery U21AFC back in its old early-season slot.
‘The nearest they came to playing against other teams was in the Corn Uí Mhuirí and the Simcox,’ he says.
‘I know how tight the schedule is but the U21 is a big loss at the start of every year for the clubs.
‘It’s okay for the elite fellas who will be playing with the adult teams but it’s the lads that are hopefully going to be playing senior in two or three years’ time – how do you get them interested? If they’re not out in January, they’re not going to be coming out in August to get fit.
‘You have seven or eight good club teams that would be competing in the U21A competition every year, and there was nearly a different winner every year.
‘Hopefully they can find a window for it again. It’s not all about winning it, it’s about the preparation and the attitude of the players early in the year.
‘You need championship to motivate players and not playing for the adult third team. Something I’ve seen is that young fellas want to play with their friends for as long as possible, meaningful games.
‘Hopefully the county board can see their way to getting it back on board again.’
Of more immediate import is the Ballincollig clash and he is expecting a tough encounter.
‘In the semi-final last year against Nemo, they gave them a good run for 45 minutes,’ he says.
‘Their panel is stronger again this year, they have the numbers. Any time we take on a team from around the city, we know that we’re up against it though our record has been good over the last few years.
‘Again, saying that, we’ve a newish team again this year so it’s a new experience for a lot of our young lads.’