DENIS McSweeney mulled over the possibility of joining the Cork U20 management set up whilst running the Berlin Marathon.
Yet, it wouldn’t be until McSweeney completed a second marathon in Dublin that the Carbery Rangers stalwart agreed to join up with Keith Ricken’s All-Ireland winning team.
It is an exceptionally busy time for McSweeney as the U20 football championship’s start date has been brought forward and will begin earlier than ever in the new year.
‘It is a huge commitment being involved with the Cork U20s,’ McSweeney told The Southern Star.
‘Any role I take on, I do it 110 per cent. It was a great honour to be asked to get involved by the reigning All-Ireland champions in the first place.
‘I was actually mulling it over whilst running the Berlin marathon. At the time, the U20 championship hadn’t been moved from the summer months but, now that it has, it won’t conflict with my commitments to the Carbery Rangers seniors.
‘Carbery Rangers are my bread and butter and were always going to get my full commitment. Then the announcement was made that the U20 championship calendar was changing so it was while I ran another marathon (Dublin) that I made up my mind to join the Cork set up. I have not regretted it and am really enjoying my new inter-county role. Better still, once the U20 championship is over I will be able to return to Carbery Rangers and continue working with them.
‘The team captain Brian Shanahan and manager Haulie O’Sullivan was happy for me to take up the Cork U20 job and also to come back in time for the club championship. Obviously, the most important decision maker in all of this was my wife Eileen. She was fully supportive along with our twin children Aoife and Daniel. They gave me the thumbs up and I was grateful for that.
‘It has been some year as I got the opportunity to line out alongside my son Daniel for the Carbery Rangers junior D squad. Joining up with the Cork U20s was the icing on the cake. At 55, I still have no intention of hanging up my boots!’
Another Carbery Rangers club member, Maurice Moore, played a pivotal role in coaching Ricken’s young Rebels to All-Ireland glory this past year. Moore recognised McSweeney’s value as the latter helped prepare and execute all of the former’s training drills during Rangers’ 2016 county-winning campaign.
‘My official title with the Cork U20s is on-field logistics and there is a lot of work involved,’ McSweeney said.
‘Cork has an off-field logistics officer as well but my focus is organising whatever’s needed ahead of any of the squad’s training sessions or games.
‘There is quite a bit of responsibility involved and I help Maurice (Moore) out with all the drills as well. The better I carry out my job then the more time Maurice and all the other Cork management team members can focus solely on coaching.
‘Keith and Maurice basically want me to replicate all the work I do for Carbery Rangers including communicating with the players at every opportunity and to continue their positive approach to training, matches and everything else around the squad.
‘I’m a great believer that the glass is always half full whether I’m working with the Carbery Rangers U6s or seniors. Cultivating a positive spirit around the Cork U20 camp will be hugely important and one of the main reasons I was asked to come on board.’
McSweeney’s reputation for quietly and efficiently going about his business as well as being a positive dressing room influence should help the Cork U20’s bid to retain their All-Ireland title over the coming months.