BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CASTLEHAVEN will pull out all the stops to ensure that they’re not the victims of a shock result when they take on Clyda Rovers in their first-round Cork SFC game in Carrigadrohid this Saturday, at 7pm.
Last weekend saw a number of West Cork teams suffer surprise losses in the opening round of the senior championship, and Haven manager Jim Nolan – in his first season back in charge – has been around long enough to know the trapdoors that are dotted all through this competition.
‘A lot of people were surprised by some results last weekend, but there are 10 or 12 teams that can do well in this championship so I wouldn’t be surprised by any of the results. It’s championship football and anything can happen,’ Nolan told The Southern Star.
Back at the helm of the club he guided to county and Munster SFC titles in 1994, Nolan is the man tasked with returning Castlehaven back to the summit of club football in Cork following last season’s disappointing campaign – a fourth-round replay loss to rivals Carbery Rangers.
Nolan insists that last year’s championship exit was to be expected at some stage, coming after two successive county titles and three county finals in a row.
Now, the hunger and appetite is back in Castlehaven, who have won four of their six Kelleher Shield games this year.
‘It was inevitable that at some stage they were going to have a down year after three or four years on the go. There were no complaints last season because they were beaten fair and square. That happens,’ Nolan said.
‘Training has gone well, we’ve had a few injuries along the way that have cleared up, the lads have the appetite for it and they know they are in for a battle on Saturday night.’
Last weekend’s surprise results, especially Valley Rovers’ shock win over 2014 defeated finalists Carbery Rangers, will have Castlehaven on red alert, especially against Clyda, who pulled off a few surprise wins in last year’s senior championship.
‘They will give us a serious challenge,’ Nolan said.
‘Going back to last year they beat O’Donovan Rossa, they beat Newcestown after a replay and they took Bishopstown to a replay so we know that we need to be at our very best to beat them.
‘They are a good club side with great spirit and with some very good players, likes Paudie Kissane and Ray Carey.
‘This is a 50-50 game no matter what other people might say. We know what we need to do on Saturday, and if we are any bit below our best we will be beaten. We know that.’
Central to Haven’s chances this season will be the form of their county stars Brian Hurley, Mark Collins and Damien Cahalane.
‘We train and play without them all the year and when they do come back we do depend on them,’ Nolan said.
‘We know that there are those stretches in the season when they are unavailable to us, but when they come back in they give the set-up a big boost and they’re very committed to it.
‘The whole atmosphere around the team lifts when they are back in.’
Injury-wise, Castlehaven have only one absentee, Michael Hurley, as Nolan explains: ‘Michael is still out with the reoccurrence of the hamstring injury that he suffered a few weeks.’