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New boss Gene O’Donovan brings fresh approach as Rossas revival gets underway

January 16th, 2022 4:30 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Kevin Davis will captain O'Donovan Rossa this season.

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NEW O’Donovan Rossa manager Gene O’Donovan is the man tasked with turning the club’s football fortunes around in 2022.

The Skibbereen team’s 2021 Bon Secours Cork SAFC campaign was one to forget. From county semi-finalists the previous season, they lost group games to Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh and Dohenys last year and drew with Bandon. It meant the Rossas finished bottom of Group A. They were out of the championship before the knock-out stages. It was a huge disappointment for a group that, a year earlier, pushed eventual Senior A FC champions Éire Óg to the limit in the county semi-finals.

No-one needs to tell incoming O’Donovan Rossa manager Gene O’Donovan about the slim margins between success and failure in the most competitive of all Cork’s football championships. But the new man at the helm wants to focus on the here and now and build for the future rather than harp on about the past.

 

‘The talent is there from the 31-year-olds right down to the 18-year-olds inside this club,’ O’Donovan told The Southern Star.

‘It is just we have to get them to blend. You can’t blame any one person or group of people either for O’Donovan Rossa failing to get out of the (SAFC) group last year. The first thing we, as a new management team, had to do was put last year behind us.

‘To quote an old lady that used to travel on a bus with me long ago, she used to say we should forget the past, look to the future but live in the now. That is how we are going to approach things this coming year.’

O’Donovan is correct in his assumption that the talent is there in Skibbereen to kick on. Any senior A club that can call upon the combined talents of Ryan Price, Donal Óg Hodnett, Thomas Hegarty, new captain Kevin Davis and Mark Collins should be challenging for top honours. Blending those experienced players with emerging talent from the minor and U20 ranks will be key to turning Rossa’s fortunes around. Finding a winning system that best suits the players at his disposal is the challenge that lies in front of O’Donovan.

‘We have met the players, gotten a training session under our belts and there is a freshness about the squad,’ O’Donovan said.

‘Unfortunately, there are a couple of lads leaving the panel for their own personal reasons and look, that’s life. You can only wish them the best of luck. We might lose some talented players but there are equally talented players coming through.

‘On the management team side of things, Daniel Cronin is coming in. Daniel will still be involved with the Cork minors but will be O’Donovan Rossa’s coach for the coming year. Aidan Hayes is going to be a selector. Eoin Hodnett is coming in as our strength and conditioning coach. Michael O’Donovan will also be coming in and looking after stats amongst other things. We are keeping the management team quite tight but there are a few others I will be bringing in throughout the year including a sports psychologist.

‘You are going to see a different approach from O’Donovan Rossa this year. There is so much talent inside our dressing room. I know these guys because I would have seen them with Daniel Cronin and myself’s involvement with the Cork and West Cork regional underage teams in recent years.

‘The players know me from being around the club and working with underage groups over the last few years. They know the style of football I want O’Donovan Rossa to play.’

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