KILMACABEA manager Noel McCarthy has fired a warning to the contenders for this season’s South West JAFC title – the champions are going to get better.
McCarthy is in his first year in charge of the defending Carbery champions, succeeding Kevin O’Driscoll who guided the club to its first divisional JAFC crown last season, and the new boss is adamant that Kilmacabea are going to get better.
In fact, in his first meeting as manager, that’s what he told his team.
‘That was the first thing I said, that we can get better,’ McCarthy said.
‘Being involved last year I saw how hard they worked and I was delighted for Kevin after the five years of hard work he put in – but one of the challenges for me is to evolve the team into a more expansive, free-flowing football team.
‘There is bundles of talent in this team, and a lot more to come.
‘When you have all that U21 talent coming on board and then you have the likes of Clive Sweetnam and Sam O’Driscoll in their prime, and put that together with Daniel O’Donovan coming back, it’s all positive.’
Kilmacabea got their title defence off to the ideal start with a convincing first-round win against Kilbrittain, 1-13 to 0-5, in what was a repeat of last season’s final.
‘The speed of the football we played in the first half was brilliant,’ McCarthy said.
‘I love watching free-flowing football, that’s what I want to see, and we did it in the first half.
‘In the second half the game slowed down a bit but we took a lot of positives from it– scoring wise, moving the ball at speed, fellas linking up. It was very good.’
McCarthy was in charge of the Kilmacabea team that won the South West U21B FC last season and a number of those young guns are now involved in the first team.
He pointed out that eight U21s either started or came on in that win against Kilbrittain.
But it’s the return of Daniel O’Donovan, after a spell with Bishopstown, that is perhaps the most intriguing addition. He scored 1-5 against Kilbrittain.
‘Daniel has shown his quality at training and in games,’ McCarthy said.
‘He is like our quarter-back, he can dictate the speed of our game, his passing range is frightening, he can kick the ball in from 50 yards to take out the blanket defence, and he can score from distance as well.
‘He has a good head and is a good fella to talk and people listen to him because he has been there, done that.’
O’Donovan’s decision to re-join Kilmacabea has bolstered an impressive panel that has only lost Eoin O’Donovan from last season, while winning the Carbery JAFC title has lifted a huge pressure from the team.
‘That’s a huge monkey off the back,’ McCarthy agreed.
‘You can see a difference alright, especially in the older players, they’re playing with a lot more freedom. That pressure of never having won one is gone.
‘Everyone will say Kilmacabea will be favourites after winning it last year but we won’t take any notice of that.
‘We’ll play our own game and if we do that I think we are good enough to achieve what we want to achieve.’