A PRIOR engagement logged in the diary from many moons ago meant I wasn’t able to attend the 2016 Carbery GAA All-Stars at the Westlodge Hotel in Bantry last Saturday night – but from various reports, it seems the night was a great success, again.
It also, however, didn’t surprise me when Carbery Board Vice-Chairman Tom Lyons wrote this week that ‘some clubs still show some apathy towards the awards’.
Cue a frustrated shake of the head on this end.
The introduction of these junior All-Star awards in Carbery last year was a big step forward and all clubs in the division must recognise the benefits of these awards – it’s the perfect opportunity to champion and celebrate junior footballers and hurlers, and to let them stand in the spotlight for their heroics.
It’s an honour for the players nominated and selected, for their clubs and their families, and it’s a night of glitz and glamour at the end of a long season.
It’s also a chance to celebrate Carbery GAA.
The Buckley Financial Awards, for years, served as the scheme that celebrated local GAA achievements, and now the All-Stars has taken up the baton.
I’ve been critical of the Carbery board enough times in the past but they got this one right.
But these All-Star awards need the support from local clubs if they are to survive and grow, and establish themselves here in Carbery.
Remember, this is just the second year of the Carbery GAA All-Stars so the awards are still finding their feet, but they’ll continue to grow year on year, and their standing will grow as well.
Perhaps the clubs that don’t embrace these awards are those who didn’t have players nominated or who are after a poor season – but these could be the clubs that go on a run next year and produce a couple of All-Stars.
There needs to be a consistency from all clubs in the division to support an initiative thats aim is to promote and showcase Carbery hurling and football. If they don’t, it’s their own players who are missing out.
Sometimes people need a wake-up call, and if the day comes when the Carbery board is no more and that one central body runs the divisions in this county, then clubs will realise what they’re missing.
The message to local clubs is simple: give your support to the Carbery GAA All-Stars.
Better news from last Monday night’s meeting of Carbery clubs in Dunmanway is that the Carbery senior hurling team has been granted a stay of execution, with the junior clubs rallying behind the team and showing a willingness to support the team next year.
Preventing the Carbery senior hurling team being tossed into the rubbish bin is just the first step, however.
What needs to happen now is than a plan and structure is put in place for next year that both the board and the clubs involved agree on.
The board needs to canvass the hurling clubs in the division to see which will support the team next season. With Bandon now up in the senior ranks, Carbery’s three intermediate clubs – Barryroe, Argideen Rangers and Kilbrittain – will hold more responsibility next season, but will all three throw their support behind the team? That needs to be ironed out.
The Carbery board then need to appoint a manager and management team, and not leave it go as late as it did this year. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
A working relationship and an open channel between the board and the management team is crucial, and the board needs to accommodate both the division’s senior hurling and football teams more than it has up to now.
Chatting to Muskerry senior football manager John Twomey earlier in the year, he spoke of how he contacted all managers of clubs in the division early in the year, arranged that Thursday nights would be a dedicated training night for the division’s footballers rather than the usual Monday night.
Twomey said how Muskerry clubs were very supportive this year – and there’s no reason that the Carbery board can’t accommodate its senior divisional teams.
Much like the Carbery All-Stars is a chance to showcase the division’s junior players, the Carbery senior teams are a chance to showcase the top footballers and hurlers we have here so an extra effort needs to be made.
If the board and management can establish a working relationship with committed clubs and a proper structure, then that’s a step forward and an improvement.
But these plans must be put in place early.