A HUGE West Cork derby looms large in Rossmore this Sunday. One of the Cork premier senior football favourites Castlehaven collide with Newcestown in a crunch Group C game (4pm throw-in).
Haven manager James McCarthy is focused on the job at hand – to win the match to book their spot in a county quarter-final. But it’s not straightforward, as a win for Newcestown could see them advance, if Nemo also beat Clonakilty.
‘Everyone in the group can qualify. Clon, ourselves and Newcestown have to win their last game. Whoever wins goes through, simple as that,’ McCarthy explained.
‘The main thing is the two points. We got two points against Clonakilty, nobody was talking about that game and everyone was talking about the Nemo game, a good game of football, but we’re more worried about getting two points.’
That 3-13 to 1-16 loss to Nemo Rangers last time out was frustrating, especially after leading going into additional time.
‘Look, it’s done and we move on to the next game,’ McCarthy said.
A few positives for Castlehaven though. Firstly, they have no injuries to report. Secondly, they had a 70-percent shot conversion rate in the Nemo game. When Brian Hurley, Jack Cahalane and Michael Hurley are on form, they’re relentless.
‘Everybody knows we have good forwards and we score enough most of the time. It’s just about trying to cut down the scoring on the other side. We’d be happy with the shooting; we’d be unhappy with other parts to it,’ the Haven manager admitted.
One stat that will not please the Haven though is their 50 percent retention over their own kickouts.
‘You have control over your own kickout, it works some weeks. Small things make a difference, a breaking ball for instance. If you win two or three more, your stats get better,’ McCarthy added.
‘I’d be more worried about what you do with the ball when you do have it. You have to work on everything, but you don’t have that much time either, a couple of weeks.
‘You play again and that’s it, you just drive on again to the next week. Newcestown will be the same and there won’t be a kick of a ball between the two of us, I’d say.’
The young players are making a big difference to the Haven this season.
Take Robbie Minihane and Jack Cahalane for example, who both impressed against Nemo.
‘Robbie coming on the last day gave us legs. We were in control for the last 20 minutes. The legs of Robbie helped and we had Tomás O’Mahony on there too, Jack Cahalane of course. We have a lot more young lads. I would say in the next two to three years, even the next 12 months, they’ll be pushing for a place in the team. They’re pushing hard for places at the moment,’ said McCarthy.
A lot of people would rank the Haven as one of the favourites for the Cork Premier SFC title, but that doesn’t bother the Castlehaven manager.
‘I don’t take any notice of it anyway. I don’t think the players do either. That comes from us being in the semi-final and final in the last few years,’ he said.
‘Clon came from nowhere last year, there will be some other team that’ll do the same thing again, I promise you that. Carbery are going well at the moment, Mallow are going well.
‘Qualifying is the main thing, getting into a quarter-final and seeing what you can do from there. If we don’t beat Newcestown the next day, we won’t be worrying about the Barrs or Nemo for the rest of the year,’ McCarthy said.
As regards to the opponents, McCarthy knows more than a bit about Newcestown.
‘I saw them against Nemo but I wouldn’t take much from that because Newcestown had a few injuries and the weather was atrocious, very hard to play football,’ he said.
‘I had someone watching them against Clon and the reports back were good. We played them in the last two years and there was very little in it. We came out the right side but we had the rub of the green, a bit of luck and a bit of magic maybe.’