THOUGH we’re barely past the Ides of March, but already the beginning of the county senior football championship looms for divisional and college sides.
After two years where the composite sides were included with club teams from the off, the county board has reintroduced the separate competition from which two will emerge into the championship proper.
Beara get the ball rolling on Sunday afternoon when they clash with Avondhu in Macroom (3.30pm) and for manager Peter Murphy it’s a case of being thrown in at the deep end.
With little time to prepare his charges – Beara gathered on the last two Wednesdays – Murphy would like to have a seen a different format than straight knockout.
‘When you’re coming in so late, it’s not ideal,’ he says.
‘There is decent talent out there in Beara and we’ve cast the net as wide as we can, though because of the timing of the game we’ll be missing a few. You don’t expect to be playing on St Patrick’s weekend but we’ll get on with it as best we can.
‘It’s definitely tough when you’re only given one chance and you have a tough game like we will against Avondhu.
‘I definitely think that a round-robin format would be more suitable. When you have junior players, they benefit from getting as many chances as possible to play at a higher level but it’s difficult to develop when you’re out after losing one game.’
Beara are likely to be powered by the likes of Andrew O’Sullivan and Seán Terry O’Sullivan, but one notable absentee is attacker Gary Murphy, who will be lining out with UCC.
The college side prove the opposition for Carbery on Tuesday night, with Macroom also the venue for a 7.45pm throw-in.
Carbery also have a new manager this year, with former Dohenys boss Tim Buckley taking the helm.
‘We’ve been together three or four weeks,’ he says, ‘we’re doing as much as we can, given the schedule.
‘The one thing I like about it though is that it’s the same for all of the teams in this, it’s likely a separate combination so everybody is in the same boat.’
Despite the relative recency of his appointment, Buckley doesn’t feel that this leaves Carbery at a disadvantage.
‘In fairness to those who went before us,’ he says, ‘there’s a very strong spirit there and a good team ethic.
‘We’ll have a few new lads and we’re trying to give a chance to as many players as we can, already we’ve worked with a good number of lads.’
From last year’s panel, Graham Canty has retired from all football while Alan O’Connor has also opted out with a finger injury currently plaguing him.
Brian O’Driscoll tore his hamstring in Cork’s win over Meath last weekend and Buckley estimates his time out as somewhere between three and six weeks.
Against that, Dylan Scannell of St Mary’s and Seán Ryan of Ballinascarthy, both Cork minors in 2016, are new additions to the Carbery panel while Kilmeen trio Damien O’Gorman and twins Oige and Shane Scannell could also feature.
Also on Tuesday, Muskerry take on CIT in Ovens and Seandun and Duhallow meet in Mallow, both games at 7.45pm.