MARK Collins is hoping to re-establish Castlehaven as a force in the Cork SFC but he’s not taking fellow West Cork opponents Dohenys lightly in the opening round.
On paper, Castlehaven are clear favourites heading into their first county football championship tie of the season – against Dohenys in Rosscarbery this Saturday, at 6.15pm.
A Dohenys side that lost to St. Nick’s in last year’s relegation play-off are not expected to halt the Haven’s progress but a young team anchored by last year’s West Cork U21 champions have nothing to lose.
For that reason alone, Castlehaven are not taking their Carbery neighbours lightly, anxious as they are to improve on 2017’s narrow quarter-final defeat to Carbery Rangers.
Haven stalwart Mark Collins played an integral role for Ronan McCarthy during the Cork manager’s first Allianz Football League Division 2 campaign, finishing as second top scorer. Before concentrating on his club’s upcoming county championship tie, the versatile forward took time to reflect on a disappointing league series in Cork’s colours.
‘Obviously, the league campaign was a very disappointing one for us,’ Collins stated.
‘The way things panned out, we started out the year looking to gain promotion back to division one but it didn’t happen. There is a bit of a break now and we have two weeks back with our clubs (during April) and I’m really looking forward to it.
‘It is good to get a change of scenery and I’m looking forward to getting back playing with the lads. Hopefully, there are things to build on with Cork, going forward, as we played a lot of the younger guys during the league.
‘A lot of players were used and I think a lot of them put their hands up for selection, come the summer. So while the campaign was disappointing, hopefully there were some positives to take out of it as well.’
Castlehaven’s dressing room contains plenty of battle-hardened players who have lifted the Andy Scannell Cup and are eager to help the West Cork side return to glory.
‘We have been lucky enough that a lot of us (players) came on the scene around the same time,’ Collins noted.
‘There is a good gang of us there together around the same age and we’d all be very good friends. You always look forward to getting back to the dressing room and having the craic (after Cork) and I’ll be on the receiving end of a lot of slagging having not been seen in a while. ‘I’m really looking forward to the Dohenys game because they are a young up and coming team. I was at last year’s West Cork U21 final and they have some fine players. So if we are not well prepared and switched on then we will have a right battle on our hands.’
All roads lead to Rosscarbery this Saturday evening where an up-and-coming Dohenys go head to head with a Castlehaven side hoping Mark Collins can help kick-start another productive Cork SFC campaign.