New Castlehaven manager confident that they will be in the mix for honours in 2017
NEW Castlehaven senior football manager Liam Collins won’t be afraid to make the hard calls.
As recently as 2015, the three-time Cork SFC winner soldiered alongside many of the players that he will now manage, having taken the hot seat in Castlehaven – but the 36-year-old sees no issues with crossing the white line from player to manager.
‘I will make calls based on what is best for Castlehaven, I will have no personal inclination towards anyone,’ Collins stated.
‘When the selectors and myself get together to pick a team, we will pick the best possible team to represent Castlehaven. The club comes first here, it always has. It doesn’t matter if I played with fellas before, that won’t have any bearing on the thought and selection process.
‘At the end of the day it’s up to the players to put themselves in the best position to be selected.’
Collins – from Bawnlahan, just outside Union Hall – took charge of training for the first time last week, succeeding James McCarthy as manager. This is Collins’ first job as a senior football manager – and he will have to learn fast, taking charge of a Castlehaven team that will be expected to be in the mix for Cork SFC honours later this season.
Approached by the players, former senior full back Collins admits he took his time before making his decision as he weighed up the pros and cons, and how he could balance being a manager with his day job in carpentry and roofing. When the Haven players came calling again, it made his decision easier.
‘The more I thought about it, the more I knew that I couldn’t let them down, especially when you look at the coaches that have gone before me and who helped out when we were in the same position. Only for them we wouldn’t have been successful so hopefully I can give something back to the current group of players,’ said Collins, who will be joined by selectors Batt Maguire, his uncle Bernard Collins and Fergus Shanahan.
‘I was involved with the Castlehaven U21s for the last few years, I’ve been involved with the minors and U16s, so over the last few years I have worked alongside John Cleary, Dan O’Sullivan, James McCarthy, guys like this, and I feel I have picked up a good bit from them; you learn a lot along the way.
‘I’ll combine what I learned from them with my own ideas and thoughts to hopefully have the best outcome possible for the club.’
Collins will have to plan ahead for the new season without both Dermot Hurley and Timmy O’Donovan who have called time on their football careers, but the new manager will cast a watching eye over the U21s in the upcoming West Cork championship.
His philosophy is simple: if you train hard and are playing well, you have a chance of getting on the team.
‘There is a really good team there, a really strong nucleus and there are a lot of fine young players on the way up as well. We’ll do our best to come up with a game plan that will produce results,’ Collins said.
‘If the stronger players and the leaders really step up to the mark and bring the younger players along, I don’t see any reason why we can’t be successful.
‘We will put everything in place to make sure we have a chance.’
Having lost the 2015 Cork SFC final replay to Nemo Rangers, Castlehaven suffered an uncharacteristically heavy 3-15 to 0-7 defeat in last season’s quarter-final against Ballincollig, and Collins’ mandate is to turn Haven back into challengers again.
Cork seniors Mark Collins, Brian Hurley (on the comeback trail after a serious hamstring injury), Michael Hurley and Damien Cahalane will be expected to lead the Castlehaven charge this season, with Sean Dineen, Chris Hayes, Seanie Cahalane, Roland Whelton and Shane Nolan all experienced campaigners too. Adding in Conor Cahalane, Cathal Maguire and Darragh Cahalane, there’s a nice mix of youth and experience – now it’s Liam Collins’ job to find the right mix and balance.