Sport

End at hand for Carbery hurling team?

May 27th, 2018 4:00 PM

By Tom Lyons

TO FORE: Carbery player JC Flynn about to get possession ahead of Kilbrittain's Morgan Madden during the Mícheál Holland Cup semi-final at Kilbrittain on Tuesday evening. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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NOTE these names as they may prove to have played a unique part in the story of the Carbery senior hurling team: Denis Dullea (Kilbree), Shane Scannell (Kilbree), Jeremy Ryan (Ballinascarthy), JC Flynn (Ballinascarthy), Finbarr McCarthy (St James’), Mark Evans (St James’), Eoin Deasy (St James’), Eddie O’Sullivan (St Colum’s), John ‘Bobs’ Daly (St Mary’s), Cian O’Leary (Kilbrittain), Oisín Dewey (Kilbrittain), Ryan Lombard (Kilbrittain), Dylan Twohig (Kilbrittain), Ciarán Byrne (Kilbrittain).

Last Tuesday evening, Carbery hurlers were billed to play Kilbrittain in the semi-final of the Micheál Holland Cup in the new pitch in Kilbrittain. Nine players turned up for Carbery, so they borrowed five Kilbrittain players and played a 14-a-side challenge, which Kilbrittain won by 2-22 to 1-10, with Ian McCarthy of Bandon as referee. The players named above could well prove to be the last to ever wear the Carbery hurling jersey. It’s called flogging a dead horse.

Carbery manager Charlie Vaughan and his selectors Donal Holland, Kevin McCarthy and Vincent Dullea had spent all last week making numerous phonecalls trying to round up a team for this game and thought they had enough to field. When some players cried off at the last minute for various reasons and a few more didn’t turn up, after promising faithfully they would be there, they were left with nine players. One of those, Finbarr McCarthy, known as ‘Fish’ to all his friends, first played for Carbery hurlers 18 years ago, but still had the interest to tog out on Tueday night.

This competition is in honour of Mícheál Holland, a player who put his heart and soul into Kilbrittain and Carbery hurling and was a star player with the Carbery hurling team that won its one and only county senior championship in 1994. We can still see him with the bandage wrapped around his injured head hurling his heart out in that county final. He died far too young. 

What transpired on Tuesday night did little to honour his memory and the disdain shown by the junior hurling clubs of Carbery towards the Carbery team, and the selectors, may well have spelled the end for the Carbery hurling team. This is not the first time we have witnessed this, but maybe it should finally be the last. Reality has to be faced and somebody should cry halt.

For many years now, the Carbery hurling selectors have done their best to put the best team on the pitch for the championship but they have never really succeeded. Lack of interest among many of the hurling clubs, lack of commitment from the players and a general lack of interest among hurling supporters in the division has led to teams being scraped together for the big day. Little preparation has seen numerous hammerings on the pitch, which have disheartened everybody involved. Little changes from year to year.

This year, the matter of entering a Carbery team was discussed at several board meetings and eventually it was decided to enter a team for 2018, mainly because the selectors had been in place since 2017 and were enthusiastic. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm did not extend to all the clubs or the players. 

In order for the Carbery hurling team to actually be competitive in the senior championship, all the stars and planets need to align properly, i.e. a panel of the best 30 available hurlers needs to be drawn up in October; those players need to give proper commitment; all the hurling clubs, especially the three intermediate clubs, need to get fully behind the team; all the hurling managers need to encourage their best players to get involved instead of discouraging them as is the case at present; a serious course of coaching by a top-class coach is needed to raise the skills of the players; a series of challenge games against the best senior teams in the county needs to be played between October and March to bring the players, who are mostly junior, up to the pace of senior hurling; hurling supporters in the division need to get behind the team; the County Board must be persuaded to change the present championship system so that divisional teams, like the other teams in the championship, will get a second bite at the cherry if beaten in their first game. 

When all the above fall into place, then, and not until then, should another Carbery hurling team be entered into the county championship. Carbery manager Charlie Vaughan is adamant he wants another year to try to improve matters, the other selectors more realistically admit nothing will really change in the future and Tuesday night in Kilbrittain was the proof of the pudding in that regard. 

Time to pull the plug, enough is enough.

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