NO ONE would have judged Tim Buckley if he had walked away from the Carbery football set up in recent years.
Managing a divisional team is a hard gig. The Dohenys club man knows that. He took the job in 2018 intent on pointing Carbery football in the right direction, but it wasn’t that straightforward. For his first four years, they fell at the first hurdle every time.
Still, he stuck with Project Carbery because he knows how important this divisional team is.
‘There is enough talent within Carbery to put the team in a position to challenge for top honours. I’m convinced of that,’ he told The Southern Star in July 2021.
Buckley returned for a fifth season as manager this year. He felt he had unfinished business. Now, Carbery have won five games in a row, emerging from the colleges/divisions section to take their place in the county quarter-finals alongside the best clubs in Cork.
‘It’s not so much about vindication,’ Buckley told the Star this week.
‘It’s not about proving anyone right or wrong either, my enjoyment is being part of it, seeing the work we put in come to fruition at a high level. That’s my payback.’
The original target before a ball was kicked in this championship was for Carbery to win one game. They defeated Imokilly 2-18 to 1-10 on June 9th. The goalpost shifted then – they wanted to win two games. They did, beating Beara, as the Carbery train left the station and picked up speed and momentum that carried them to Páirc Uí Rinn recently. The dramatic one-point win over seasoned divisional campaigners Duhallow is the culmination of all the hard work to date, but Carbey aren’t finished yet.
‘The goal was initially to win the first game,’ Buckley said.
‘Once you win that anything is possible, and that’s what has happened.
‘Everybody is happy now to put their shoulder to the wheel for Carbery, they can see the enjoyment in the game and being part of it.
‘Every time we win a game our goal changes. If you said to me Carbery would win three games, I’d have seen that as progress. But then when you win three, you want to win the next game. And when you win five, you want to win the next one.
‘Now we have a new challenge completely, going on to take on the clubs, but that’s where we want to be.’
Carbery must wait to discover the identity of their quarter-final opponents, and Buckley and his team will now have to manage a busy championship period for his players carefully.
‘The next challenge is the game in September,’ he said.
‘The lads go back to their clubs now, and we have Carbery junior quarter-finals this weekend, and Gabriel Rangers and Bantry Blues have their county championship games the following weekend. We need to manage the lads, without overloading them. It’s a new phase in our project.’
Carbery’s players are back in with their clubs now, and they’ll be high in confidence after their exploits in the past week, beating both UCC and Duhallow, and proving they can shine on the senior stage. That’s the enjoyment Buckley gets from this, watching the players improve and evolve.
‘That’s why I am so animated and passionate about divisional teams,’ he said.
‘I see fellas who I would have watched play for their clubs at junior and intermediate level and thought they have potential to play senior level, and now they are doing it. You either sink or swim here, and they are swimming.
‘You have to be disciplined in the tackle. You can’t give away frees. You have to tackle your man. If you make a run it has to be intelligent. The more games we play, we can see the improvement – and that makes it all worthwhile.’