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Barryroe footballers are finding form at the right time as 2024 Carbery JAFC throw-in nears

June 11th, 2024 2:20 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Barryroe footballers are finding form at the right time as 2024 Carbery JAFC throw-in nears Image
Barryroe's Densy Whelton, Gearoid Holland, Jack Cahalane, Paudie Hurley and Denis Cahalane with the Mick McCarthy Cup at the 2024 Carbery GAA Championships launch. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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ONE YEAR on from claiming their first Carbery Junior A Football Championship title, Barryroe are ready to begin the defence of the Mick McCarthy Cup.

October 27th, 2023, is a date Barryroe GAA Club will never forget. That was the night the West Cork club beat Kilmacabea after extra-time to win their first-ever Carbery JAFC crown.

Now, Barryroe enters the 2024 competition as defending champions and the team to beat.

Eager to build on last year’s momentum, that will be far from straightforward as the title-holder’s coach and trainer Paudie Hurley admitted.

‘We were a bit slow starting in the league this year but maybe that was more to do with a hangover from last year’s success,’ Hurley told The Southern Star at the 2024 Carbery GAA championships launch held at the Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway.

‘Since then, we are after knuckling down and getting a few league wins. Things are going okay whilst trying to juggle the hurling, injuries and a few lads going away travelling for a couple of weeks.

‘Everyone is looking forward to the championship. I suppose a lot of the lads had a long year with the U21 going into Christmas so maybe there was a bit of tiredness at the start of the year. We gave them a break and a couple of weeks off. Their appetite is back now, to be fair.’

Barryroe's Gearoid Holland with the Mick McCarthy Cup.

Club stalwart and football selector Densy Whelton knows that famous October night will never be forgotten. Yet, Barryroe must now refocus ahead of another tough football and hurling championship campaign.

‘It was brilliant for the club, I never saw the likes of it,’ Whelton said.

‘The whole thing was something very special. It was unreal, what it meant to every player and most of the lads that played were very young. Unbelievable.

‘It is hard to start off again. The big thing is to win your first (championship) game or two then you are flying. They are a great bunch, the players, and very dedicated. They train hard. Hopefully, if we can get over the first couple of group games, that’s the big thing.’

Far from straightforward when you consider Carbery Rangers, Clonakilty and St Mary’s are Barryroe’s opponents in the opening phase of the 2024 JAFC. Paudie Hurley will need his players at their absolute best to come out of what could be an ultra-competitive group.

‘Any game you play in the junior A football championship is tough,’ Hurley said.

‘The way the draws are going, you have to be on your guard every single day. Especially clubs with second teams, the likes of Carbery Rangers and Clonakilty.

‘You just don’t know what they are going to have until their premier senior game is played.

‘They could be very strong or might lose a few players depending on how their senior panel goes. We won’t know until the day of our game(s) so we just have to drive on as best we can.’

‘Our first game is against Carbery Rangers and that will be very tough,’ Densy Whelton added.

‘They are always reaching semi-finals and finals. Carbery Rangers have a lot of players even though they are playing (premier senior) the night before our game. They still have a lot of good players.

‘We played Clonakilty and St Mary’s in last year’s championship. St Mary’s had a few players away but some of them are back now. They will be tough opposition. Clon could be very strong, you don’t know until the day itself, but any senior team will be a tough game.’

Momentum will be a key ingredient for the Barryroe footballers. The muscle memory gained from claiming last year’s championship win should stand to the reigning champions.

‘Last year, there were a lot of tough games,’ Densy Whelton concluded.

‘There were close games and a lot of ours went to extra-time (in the knockout stage). They were hard games to come through so you would hope that they would definitely stand to the lads.

‘We are all looking forward to it as long as my old heart will keep going!’

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