INSIDE TRACK: What would a Carbery football team look like if you could pick players from all clubs in the division?

December 30th, 2022 12:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Mark White, Brian Hurley. Aaron Hayes and Dylan Scannell all make it onto Haulie's team.

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HE didn’t win the RTÉ Sport Sportsperson of the Year award, but Kerry footballer David Clifford did win a lifetime of medals and accolades in 2022. 

There is much talk over the county bounds about how long Clifford and his division, East Kerry, will dominate the Kerry senior football championship; they have won three of the last four titles. Their team is star-studded and a match for many of the second tier inter-county teams. In 2022 there were only two other senior club teams in the division (Dr Crokes and Spa), so players from every other club were available for selection. That’s unfair some might say, but Clifford (whose club Fossa won the third tier championship in Kerry) and all the other stars of that team would not have got to play in the county’s premier football competition otherwise.

At one stage there were only two senior teams in Carbery – the division itself and Clonakilty. It got the wheels turning as what the Carbery team might look like in a similar situation now. Sit down with your buddies for an hour around a table and see how you get on. No doubt, you will still be arguing at the end of that time. I’m not going to let Clonakilty out, just to make it a bit more awkward. I’m going to base it on performance in 2022. Completely subjective, of course. Let the arguments begin, as this is my Carbery football team when players from all clubs within the division can be selected:

  1. Mark White (Clonakilty) – Still the best goalkeeper in the county, it’s a pity he has not committed to John Cleary’s Cork squad for 2023. White can go long. He can go short left and right. He’s a good footballer and fills the modern sweeper keeper role perfectly.
  2. Maurice Shanley (Clonakilty) – He went through a bad run of injuries but has come out the other end. Teak-tough, big, physical and athletic. Shanley is not afraid to drive forward when needed either.
  3. Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty) – Back in the Cork senior squad, it’s probably Thomas’s last chance to make an impact at that level. He has all the attributes needed if he can stay injury free.
  4. Dylan Scannell (St Mary’s) – A lightning quick, beautifully balanced footballer, he gave display after display for division and club this season.
  5. Damien Cahalane (Castlehaven) – Again, a driving force behind Castlehaven’s run to the county semi-final in 2022. Big, powerful and athletic, and a very good kicker. 
  6. Rory Maguire (Castlehaven) – He enjoyed a very promising first season at inter-county level in this position but often found himself at full back for his club. If Rory keeps improving at the rate he is, he is going to be a hell of a player.
  7. Jerry O’Riordan (Carbery Rangers) – A driving force behind the mini renaissance in Rosscarbery this past season. Pace to burn, he will be a loss to the Rangers for the coming year as he has gone travelling.
  8. Brian O’Driscoll (Tadgh MacCarthaigh) – He lit up Carbery’s run to a Tadgh Crowley Cup victory in 2022 and was one of the standout players in the premier senior football championship. He’s now back in the Cork squad. Exciting times for him.
  9. Mark Collins (Castlehaven) – In the twilight of his career, some might say, but he still manages to trouble Ian Maguire every time they meet. Super player. Great brain. Football intelligence.
  10. John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) – Two footed, legs to burn, Johno had a good year with Cork and was instrumental in his club's run to the quarter-finals of the 2022 Cork Premier SFC.
  11. Ruairi Deane (Bantry Blues) – Another renaissance man. Deane enjoyed a super year with Bantry and led them to a county final, and he also impressed with his division, leading to his Cork recall. Very hard to stop when running at goal.
  12. Aaron Hayes (St James) – The Ardfield outfit’s standout player in their run to a second Carbery junior A title and promotion to premier junior in 2023.
  13. Ryan O’Donovan (Barryroe) – Superb in Ibane Gaels run to their first Carbery U21A football title. An underage star with Cork, can he push on from here and progress his career further?
  14. Brian Hurley (Castlehaven) – Not much needs to be said about this man. A scoring machine if he gets the ball in one-on-one situations. On form, one of the best in the business, and guaranteed scores.
  15. Michael Hurley (Castlehaven) – A real goal-getter who carries plenty of pace and aggression as part of his style.

There is much to debate when you consider who’s been left out. The bench would be almost as talented as the starting 15. Liam O’Donovan (granted, injured this year but back fit and training now), Dan Peet and Sean White from Clonakilty. Richard O’Sullivan, David Buckley and Gearoid O’Donovan from Newcestown. Mark Buckley and Fionn Herlihy from Dohenys. Cathal Maguire who had a great year with Castlehaven. Damien Gore from Kilmacabea who struggled with an ankle injury all year. 

So, from Bandon in the East to Bantry in the West and North to Newcestown across 26 clubs that’s about as good as I can do. To put it in context, Leitrim have 24 clubs, Longford have 21 clubs, and Fermanagh have 22 clubs.

It would also be interesting to leave out Clon, the Haven and Ross and see what that team looks like. I’m a long-time advocate that every player in the county should have the chance to play in the top-grade competition just like it is in Kerry. That would include the Senior A teams in a potential Carbery squad. No doubt it would be as competitive as an inter-county panel.


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