BY TOM LYONS
CARBERY manager Gene O’Driscoll paid tribute to the side’s elder statesmen following Monday’s two-point win, 2-13 to 1-14, over O’Donovan Rossa in round one of the Cork SFC in Dunmanway.
Alan O’Connor played the full game at midfield for the division, just a week after playing his first match since last July as his club St Colum’s opened their junior campaign. The example shown O’Connor in coming back from the injury sustained as Cork lost to Kildare last summer, and that of Graham Canty and Owen Sexton, is one for others to emulate, O’Driscoll believes.
‘We were thrilled for Alan O’Connor out there today,’ he said.
‘It would have been sad if he had finished that way. He’s back now with junior and senior championship games under his belt. What a great character, the same with Graham.
‘He injured his shoulder playing with Bantry during the week but he’s a big player to come in for us. His presence alone in the dressing room when he talks, fellows listen, they look up to him. Owen Sexton came on board again today, as water-carrier, what service he has given to us.
‘These lads are great ambassadors for the game. Young lads learn from them, how to behave on and off the pitch. For us today as a division, it was crucial to win. It guarantees us two more games and we will see where that takes us. It gives us a great opportunity.’
Carbery came into the game short on preparation time, as is the case with many divisional sides. O’Driscoll was never going to use that as an excuse though.
‘It was hard to prepare for this game but we never use that as an excuse,’ he said.
‘That’s a given with any divisional side in the first round, it’s about getting them together, they know each other well. This is the result we would have been looking for and it kick-starts our season. It gives the lads a belief in themselves and as a group. This brings guys together who are normally playing against each other and it creates new friendships. That’s what the game is about, as much as anything else.’
O’Driscoll was also a selector on the Cork U.21 team which lost the All-Ireland final to Mayo on Saturday night but was philosophical about that defeat.
‘You can do two things in sport,’ he said, ‘you can embrace it and enjoy it when you win and when it goes against you, you can’t wallow in it, you must move on.
‘We lost an All-Ireland final but we had some great moments during the year. The lads showed tremendous character in the games, made great friends, and some will go on to play junior or senior with Cork. They’ll move on but will never forget the fine season they just had. The luck just went against them in the end.’