BRIAN Hurley has been Castlehaven’s leading scorer in their last few senior championship campaigns but the 2015 defeated finalists have to plan without the injured Rebel star for the rest of the year.
Hurley will watch on from the sideline when Haven take on Ilen Rovers in the Cork SFC Round 4 this Saturday night (7pm), after he underwent surgery on the serious hamstring injury that he suffered in Cork training last month.
The only silver lining – if it can even be called that – is that the Haven have had time to work on their game-plan and shape minus Hurley.
‘Brian is definitely out but we’re fine besides that, just the usual few knocks and bruises,’ Castlehaven manager James McCarthy said.
‘Brian is a massive loss but we’ve known for a good few weeks now that he would be missing so we have had time to plan without him and try out a few things.
‘Of course any team will miss a player like Brian, he’s a top inter-county player, but we feel we have the depth in the panel to soak up and absorb injuries. We’d rather not have any injuries but we are long enough on the road now to be able to keep it on track.’
A new face who could make his championship debut for Castlehaven is former Goleen footballer Conor O’Driscoll, who now lines out with the Haven. He scored 2-3 in a recent Kelleher Shield game against Clyda Rovers, and is in line to feature for his new club.
‘Conor will be there or thereabouts. He is a good asset to have. He was a Cork minor with Michael Hurley, and was on the team that beat Kerry in Páirc Uí Rinn a few years back. It will take him a while to get up to the pace of senior championship but we’re delighted to have him,’ McCarthy said.
‘There are a lot of young fellas on the panel that are putting up their hands to be picked; it’s a 20-man game now, whatever 15 starts won’t finish a game, so you need everyone.’
Castlehaven kicked off their SFC campaign with a 0-14 to 0-13 round one win against Clonakilty, and then they followed up with an impressive 4-17 to 3-9 win against CIT in Round 2A in June – a game where Mark Collins called the shots in midfield, the now-injured Brian Hurley kicked 1-8 and Shane Nolan scored 2-1.
‘I’ve been happy enough with our form. We set out our stall at the start of the year that we would try and keep things fresh, and to aim for this time of the season,’ explained McCarthy, who is in his first year back as manager.
‘We nearly got caught against Clon but we were delighted to get over the line there without having to push the boat out at training. In the last month we have trained hard but saying that we are only getting our Cork lads (Mark Collins, Michael Hurley, Damien Cahalane and Cathal Maguire) back so the team that goes out on Saturday hasn’t played together since the last championship game.’
When the teams met in a Kelleher Shield game in April, Castlehaven only had a single point to spare, 0-10 to 1-6, and McCarthy expects another close encounter against Ilen on Saturday.
Much will be made of its derby element, but that won’t be used in the Haven’s build-up, according to McCarthy.
‘Before we would talk up the game but we are on the road five years now and it’s easy to motivate these fellas. They don’t need extra motivation,’ he said.
‘This is the tough game to get over, there are no more back doors, no more ifs and buts, it’s real championship stuff on Saturday and there’s no holding back from now on. Half-injured players, you need to throw them on, you can’t be waiting for the next day because it might not come.’