BY KIERAN McCARTHY
RONAN McCARTHY admits he would have been ‘mad’ to turn down the chance to manage Carbery Rangers this season.
At the start of this year the former Cork senior selector took over from previous manager, Micheál O’Sullivan who spent four years in charge, and McCarthy has guided Carbery Rangers back to their second Cork SFC final in three years.
The Douglas man is an experienced campaigner in Cork GAA, and was considered as one of the front-runners for the senior inter-county job 12 months ago, with an impressive GAA CV to his name.
But after the cards were dealt out, the Cork role went west to Peadar Healy, and Carbery Rangers turned to McCarthy for guidance this season. And he didn’t have to think twice.
‘With the quality of the team and how serious they are about their football I would have been mad not to take the opportunity when it was there,’ McCarthy said ahead of Sunday’s Cork SFC final.
An admirer of Ross from afar, he has an even greater appreciation for them now having worked with the club this season, with the quality of the Carbery Rangers attack standing out – they’ve scored 4-58 in four championship games this season and are top scorers in the Kelleher Shield (averaging 0-16 per game).
‘I would have watched them a lot over the years, going to club games and the one thing that stood out to me was the quality in the team and particularly the quality up front. A lot of teams can struggle for quality up front and that’s where a lot of teams can fall short but this team has forward players in abundance with huge ability,’ he said.
‘There is huge talent in the team – and that was one of the attractions of the job. And they are a football-only club, that was very attractive as well.
‘What’s very obvious coming in from the outside is that they are extremely serious about their football, they are hungry to be successful and they have been extremely consistent. They have done well to get back to the final so soon because there are no guarantees in football, but ultimately there is only one way that the season can be successful for the club and that is to win it.’
While McCarthy wasn’t involved when Ross came up short in the 2014 county final against Sunday’s opposition, Ballincollig, some might feel that hurt can be used as a motivational took for this weekend’s rematch. McCarthy thinks different.
‘Regardless of the result on Sunday we can’t replay the 2014 final so I won’t be mentioning it anyway,’ he said.
But McCarthy – who managed the Douglas team that reached the 2008 Cork SFC final, for the first and only time, before they lost to rivals Nemo Rangers – does feel that Carbery Rangers, regardless of the result that day, can still use the experience of the occasion in 2014 to help them this Sunday.
‘What I would say is that when you get to a final, whether you win it or not, if you can get back to another final quickly then that’s where the previous experience counts,’ the former Cork footballer said.
‘We’re fortunate enough that it’s only been two years since Ross were in the final. If there were six or seven years between finals, then that previous experience wouldn’t count for as much.
‘Certainly, it’s a help. They know what’s involved, they know how to prepare for it, but you have to take each game as it comes like we have done all year and this is a new challenge.’
McCarthy is pleased with the game management of this Ross team in this championship, pinpointing the 1-11 to 0-6 quarter-final win against Valley Rovers as an example.
‘The performances have been a mix of real quality and guts, we really had to dig deep against Clyda Rovers (in round one), and some of the performances have been really professional, there has been a maturity about them.
‘Championship games, it’s about managing the games properly and we have done that, particularly against Valleys. You need experience to do that.’
He added: ‘I wouldn’t agree (that we have had an untested run to the final) because after we beat Valley Rovers we played an Avondhu team that hammered Duhallow. Suddenly, that was a huge challenge (playing Avondhu) and now people are saying that, in hindsight, that maybe it wasn’t.’
McCarthy has made an impression in Carbery Rangers in his first season, and the team looks defensively stronger than in previous years.
Add to that the forward power at his disposal, and maybe, finally, McCarthy and Carbery Rangers can both land a cup that has eluded them both in their past county final appearances.