NEW Muskerry senior football manager John Twomey is hopeful that the winds of change that have swept through the division this year can blow Aghada away in Saturday night’s Cork SFC round one game in Caherlag (7pm).
Macroom native Twomey, also manager of Cill na Martra, has brought a new approach to the Muskerry setup this year and he’s delighted with the response he has received from the local players and clubs.
While several of the established names in Muskerry GAA will be involved – like Macroom quartet Sean Kiely, Rory Buckley, Fintan Goold and David Goold and Éire Óg’s Daniel Goulding and Kevin Hallissey – Twomey has injected new blood into the panel.
‘We have introduced 12 new guys to the panel this year. We held a lot of trials early on, as well as a four or five challenge games so we had a good look at who’s around,’ Twomey explained.
‘The premier intermediate, intermediate and junior players went through the trial process and we are after unearthing 12 new lads. They won’t all be starting but there is a dozen new players now involved.
‘You need to have a conveyor belt coming through. We have gone through the division and there were lads who should have been playing with Muskerry but weren’t, and we coaxed them into joining up this year.’
Éire Óg’s Cork U21 pair John Mullins and Ronan O’Toole are involved this year, but Muskerry will be without Sean Kelleher (long-term injury) and Liam Shorten for Saturday’s night’s opener. Noel O’Leary is on the way back from a long-term ankle injury and Twomey is hopeful the former All-Ireland winning Cork defender will link up with the panel down the line.
Twomey also gave an update on the availability of Inniscarra’s Sean O’Donoghue, who is involved in Kieran Kingston’s Cork senior hurling panel and also kicked 0-4 in last Saturday’s All-Ireland U21 football final defeat to Mayo.
‘We are hoping that Sean will join the panel after the Aghada match,’ Twomey said.
‘He is on the extended Cork hurling panel and he has opted to play with the Muskerry hurlers this year, which is great news. We have to monitor the situation, talk to the hurling management to see when he is available because certainly he is a serious football talent and we could do with him.’
Expecting a tough challenge off Aghada on Saturday night, Twomey is appreciative to the support of Muskerry clubs this season as the division looks to make an impact and benefit from the new format that he feels will suit divisional teams and breathe new life into their challenge.
‘Talking to the managers of the all the teams in Muskerry early in the year was a big help,’ he said.
‘I asked them could I have Thursday nights. The last few years Muskerry had Monday nights but that was hard on players to play with their clubs the weekend and then play a challenge game with Muskerry on Monday. Players can train with their clubs on a Tuesday night, recover on the Wednesday and we can play then on a Thursday night.
‘It’s worked and to be fair to all the clubs in Muskerry they have been very supportive this year. They have rowed in behind us.’