Castlehaven star Michael Hurley looking forward to clash with Carbery Rangers
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
MICHAEL Hurley acknowledges that it’s a well-worn cliché but it’s very apt for the war that lies ahead.
‘It’s Carbery Rangers inside in Skibb in the championship, if that doesn’t get you going then nothing will,’ the Castlehaven forward says.
‘Everyone wants to play championship and these are the type of games you train for.’
There’s extra bite to this Saturday night’s Cork SFC Round 2 battle in Skibbereen because for both Castlehaven and Carbery Rangers, it’s last-chance saloon.
Lose, you’re out, and put away the boots until next season.
Win, and you’re bouncing into a Round 3 game the following weekend against county champions, St Finbarr’s, high in confidence.
‘This is massive,’ Hurley agrees.
‘There is no hiding that we’re both big rivals, probably our biggest, that’s no secret. That probably gives you an extra little bit of motivation.’
Hurley (23) is keen to stretch his legs in the championship too. He’s coming off a Cork campaign where he was a used sub in five of the Rebels’ six games between Munster and the All-Ireland series. He was an impact sub, sprung from the bench usually at the three-quarter stage and tasked with making his presence felt. That’s what Hurley did in the Super 8s.
Against Dublin, he was introduced after 56 minutes and tacked on 0-2 at the Hill 16 end. Fifty-two minutes in against Tyrone, Cork boss Ronan McCarthy looked to Hurley to leave his mark. Again, he did. Hurley scored 0-4 from play at Croke Park.
‘I would have liked to start a few games. The situation I was given was come on the pitch with 20, 25 minutes to go and make a difference. I felt I did that. Overall, I’m happy enough with it,’ says Hurley, who will want to carry his form in the Super 8s into the county championship now. Ross are in his crosshairs.
Castlehaven’s Round 1 defeat to Fermoy in early April was a big shock. Few saw that coming. That 1-9 to 0-11 loss turned a few heads. They’ve now dug a hole that they’re backing themselves to get out of.
‘You could say it’s a surprise that we’re both in the losers’ round but we’re here because we weren’t good enough in the first round,’ the Haven forward says.
‘It’s a must-win game and that will add some spice to it. One of the top teams competing for a county will be gone on Saturday night. It will be a great occasion, there’ll be a massive crowd and there will be an extra edge.’
Castlehaven regrouped well after that loss to Fermoy and they won promotion from Division 2 of the county league. That was the target.
‘It’s important for a team like us to be playing in Division 1 to bring players along,’ Hurley explains.
What’s also important is that Castlehaven have their inter-county contingent back in the mix.
Michael and Brian Hurley and Mark Collins have been in with the footballers the past few months, Rory Maguire has been busy with the Cork U20s and Damien Cahalane with the senior hurlers, but they’re all back in the blue and white again.
‘Even when you’re in with Cork you’re still in touch with fellas and you’re still calling over to training once a week, whenever you get time, and you are still aware of what’s going on. It’s a challenge, alright, but we make the best of it,’ Hurley says.
Carbery Rangers will provide a huge challenge this Saturday. Hurley knows that. That’s one of the words he associates with Ross: challenge. Every ball will be hard won.
‘You know what you are going to get from them because they are a really good team,’ the Haven forward says.
‘They have good individuals – John O’Rourke, John Hayes, Brian Shanahan, Fitzy, guys like them – and they’re a really good team that works hard for each other all day.
‘They’ve always been hard to play against because they approach the game hammer and tongs and we need to be ready to match that.’
Hurley feels Castlehaven are ready to rock and roll. These are the games he loves. Even more so when Castlehaven win.