GER McCARTHY spoke with optimistic Carbery hurling manager Charlie Vaughan ahead of their Cork SHC opener
CHARLIE Vaughan believes diligent preparation and the full support of the Carbery board gives the West Cork division’s hurlers a decent chance of overcoming Avondhu in the Cork senior hurling championship.
This is Vaughan’s third year in charge of the Carbery hurlers and there have been plenty of low points and struggles both on and off the pitch during that timeframe.
Yet this year the St Colum’s clubman is delighted with his squad’s preparations ahead of a tough championship opener against Avondhu in the first round of the colleges/divisions section.
‘I’ve been constantly complaining about one thing or another for the last two years,’ Vaughan admitted to The Southern Star.
‘Two years ago I was complaining about the Carbery board not helping us out. Last year I was on about intermediate clubs not helping us.
‘I was blaming nearly everybody including my grandmother for the state of Carbery’s divisional hurling set-up so it will probably come as a bit of shock that this year, things are much better.
‘I did say three years ago when I took over that it might take three years to turn things around. Now, we have a nice panel and have been working hard since January. We had had four full training sessions at Clonakilty GAA’s astro-turf pitch. Numbers have been very good in that we have had about 20 for every session. We have played a few challenge games as well against quality opposition, drawing one and losing one.’
Next Tuesday night’s championship encounter against Avondhu will be played under floodlights at Páirc Uí Rinn. Last year, Carbery’s interest in the competition was ended by CIT following a heavy 4-18 to 3-7 defeat.
There is cause for optimism this time around as a talented squad including both intermediate and junior hurlers is eager to make a mark.
‘It is all positive right now and things have been going well for us in the build-up to the Avondhu game,’ the Carbery manager commented.
‘The Carbery board have been absolutely fantastic to us. Anything we have asked for, we have received. We have been able to supply food for the lads at every training session which is a huge development for Carbery hurling.
‘In terms of club support, I have to give particular mention to Timoleague’s Barry Harte. I had a meeting with him back in January and Barry was very nice with the tea but mean with the biscuits! Barry and the Timoleague lads have been fantastic in turning up for us. Kilbrittain and Barryroe have been equally brilliant.
‘There are some fantastic players making themselves available to us from our junior clubs as well. We have six or seven Kilmeen players, a couple of Mathúna’s lads and a few from St Oliver Plunkett’s too. Some lads from St James’ and Clonakilty as well mean Carbery now has a fine collection of hurlers for the upcoming championship.’
The raising of standards off the field is mirrored by Carbery’s on-field build-up. Mathúna’s John Paul O’Callaghan being brought in as coach underlines that point and Vaughan believes a benchmark has been set for future Carbery squads in what is a significant year for West Cork hurling.
‘It is the 25th anniversary of Carbery winning the county title. That has been our driving force because we feel if we can’t put in the effort this year then we never will,’ Vaughan admitted.
‘Carbery has to keep progressing as there always seems to be a doubt about hurling and the divisions. Our plan is to go out and not just defeat Avondhu but play as a unit using our entire panel and not looking for players on the morning of the game like the last time we played them.
‘Carbery is not going into the first round to just participate, we want to win. Gaining momentum is hugely important because, should we get through and that is by no means certain, we could possibly end up playing the county champions Imokilly.’
Imokilly’s title-winning success over the past two years has seemingly solidified the view that colleges and divisions belong in the Cork SHC. It is a subject Vaughan feels strongly about.
‘Imokilly winning the Cork senior hurling championship for the last two years should tell you whether divisions have a place in the senior championships or not,’ the Carbery manager stated.
‘I hear a lot of things about divisions not being allowed enter. Me being a cynic form Kealkill, I wonder are the detractors afraid of divisions because they are taking some of the glory away from particular clubs.
‘Over the last two years Imokilly have proven divisions belong in the championships. It is fantastic for junior players to get a chance to play against senior club players.
‘Let’s rephrase the question, why shouldn’t there be a place for division in the championships? I don’t think there is any argument now really.’