BY KIERAN McCARTHY
THE return of John O’Rourke is a big boost to Carbery Rangers’ championship hopes ahead of their round one opener against Clyda Rovers in Carrigadrohid this Sunday afternoon (3.30pm).
The Cork star missed the county’s entire Allianz Football League Division 1 campaign after surgery on a shoulder injury that dogged his 2015 season.
After suffering a dislocated shoulder in the 2015 league final against Dublin in Croke Park 12 months ago, the Ross forward then dislocated his shoulder twice in the Cork SFC semi-final loss to Nemo Rangers last October.
Last Saturday, O’Rourke lined out in the 1-15 to 0-12 county league Division 1 win against Newcestown and he’s in contention to feature against Clyda, explained Ross boss Ronan McCarthy.
‘John is back in full training and full contact. He played against Newcestown and is certainly in contention for Sunday,’ McCarthy said.
‘It’s a huge boost to have him back. He’s a marvellous player. His shoulder had been an issue for a while now and he went away and got what was a very serious operation. He was very dedicated with his rehab, but while he has been training fully and was away with Cork in the training camp (in Portugal) he still is only after one game, so expectations need to be in line with that.’
Seamus Hayes is also back from injury, but last year’s semi-finalists are waiting on the fitness of Declan Hayes, while Kevin MacMahon is suspended for the game against Clyda – a rematch of last year’s round two game that Ross only won 1-7 to 0-8.
‘It was a close affair last year and we expect more of the same on Sunday. It will be tight,’ manager McCarthy noted.
Former Cork selector with Conor Counihan and Brian Cuthbert, McCarthy is in his first season in charge or Carbery Rangers, having previously managed Douglas for three seasons while he also spent a year with Ballinora.
‘It wasn’t a hard decision to make when the opportunity arose at Carbery Rangers. It’s a very attractive job for many reasons: they are a football-only club, they are very competitive at the top level and the club has a fine tradition as well,’ he noted.
McCarthy’s task is to help Ross, finally, get their hands on a first Cork SFC crown, with the Carbery club ultra consistent over the past few seasons.
‘It’s a very difficult championship to win. I know that from my previous experience with Douglas when we were beaten in the 2008 final,’ he said.
‘Carbery Rangers have been extremely consistent, reaching five of the last six semi-finals. You have the best chance to do well when you are consistent.
‘There are a lot of good teams but there can be only one winner.’
McCarthy wants to take the shortest possible route in the championship, starting with a tricky tie against battlers Clyda on Sunday.
The winner of the Carbery Rangers v Clyda Rovers round one game meets the winner of Dohenys v Douglas in Round 2A. The loser of Carbery Rangers v Clyda has a bye to Round 3.