KIERAN McCARTHY got the thoughts of the new Carbery senior football manager Tim Buckley
SEEING as he has just been appointed as Carbery senior football manager, it’s no surprise that Tim Buckley is extolling the virtues of the divisional outfit and its benefits.
If he wasn’t, it would set off alarms in the board that approached him and then green-lit his new role – but after chatting to him for a few minutes, you pick up on the genuine affection from Buckley towards the Carbery division.
He cares. And takes great pride from his new role.
That it was left this late in the day – just over a month out from Carbery’s Cork SFC opener against UCC – to appoint a successor to Gene O’Driscoll doesn’t reflect well on the head-hunters for this particular job, before a lengthy process finally ended with Buckley’s appointment.
A former Carbery player himself who came from a junior club, St Mary’s, he knows the value of the divisional set-up.
‘I’m from Ballineen, I played junior football and as a result I got to play with Carbery in the late eighties and early nineties,’ he said.
‘I was your typical junior B footballer, I got a break and was called into the Carbery set-up, Big John (Corcoran) was a selector at the time, Teddy Holland was the manager, and they were doing what I want to do now – spreading the net all over West Cork.
‘I thought I was a big fish in a small pond in Ballineen but it was an eye-opener with Carbery. Everything was stepped up five notches.
‘For five years I was involved with great Carbery teams, you had the Cotters from Bantry, the Herlihys with the Dohenys, backboned by Ross and Ilen Rovers who were junior at the time. The half-back line that time was Mark O’Connor, Mark Farr and Pat Nolan, all Cork footballers, and I was trying to break into the line.’
Great times and good memories in the Carbery jersey and his club, St Mary’s, benefited too.
‘It brought my performance to a different level, I feel, because I learned so much being in with Carbery and training with the best players around,’ he explained, and he feels local clubs will benefit from having some of their players exposed to senior football.
‘A junior player coming into a senior team will improve by being involved in that camp and playing senior football games against senior teams.
‘We will bring on junior players this season and expose them to senior football against the best teams out there, and then they will improve and will go back to their clubs as better footballers, which can only help their clubs then.
‘It’s win-win for the player, their clubs and the division.’
It’s Friday morning at Buckley Financial in downtown Dunmanway.
Dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and lilac tie, he might be in work mode but he’s enjoying this football talk. The juices are flowing.
This business man is already plotting a plan.
We’ve already established his own links to the Carbery team and why when the board came calling it was so easy to say yes.
‘I have a huge affiliation with the Carbery jersey. I know how important it is and what it means for local footballers to get the chance to play with the division,’ he said, but he’s also very optimistic about the division’s chances this season.
Positivity is his buzz word.
He’s not closing his eyes to the reality that Carbery hasn’t made any impact in the Cork SFC since contesting a semi-final in 2013, but he insists it’s a clean slate and a new chance to get Carbery up and motoring again.
A return to the division and colleges’ format this season sees Carbery drawn against a UCC team that will be big favourites so the championship could be all over after one game.
It could be a very short managerial reign, if recent results are the yardstick – a round two exit last year, it was round four before that and 2015 saw UCC hammer Carbery in Macroom in April in their first and only game that season.
There’s no back door at this stage of the season for Carbery whose season could be over by the end of March.
‘I choose to see the return to the old format in a positive light,’ Buckley says.
‘Look at the divisions and colleges’ section, two teams will come out of this mini competition and advance to the summer – but we’ll approach this as a competition in itself, a separate tournament that we have to come out of.
‘It’s a huge challenge from a logistical point of view to get fellas together on a regular basis – but the raw talent is there and their attitude and the attitude from the clubs has been very encouraging.
‘My challenge is to get them together, streamline them so we play like a team against UCC.’
Instead of viewing the short run-in to the UCC match as a hindrance, Buckley feels he has enough time to get the team up and running, also highlighting that the divisional team won’t be held back by clubs involved in championship action on the weekend of the game, which was a particular bugbear of former boss Gene O’Driscoll.
In fairness to Buckley, his support of Carbery GAA has seen him put his money where his mouth is.
From 2007 to 2015, he ran the Buckley Financial Team of the Month and annual awards that championed local GAA teams and their achievements – but that was wound up when the Carbery GAA All-Stars was created.
There wasn’t room for two award schemes in Carbery GAA, it was felt. It meant the end of the Buckley Financial awards.
Ironic so, that Buckley is now the man that the board turned to, to help them out.
Considering how last season panned out in charge of the Dohenys, Buckley will feel he has something to prove.
He had previous spells with St Colum’s, St Mary’s, Kilmacabea and with the Cork U17s, and last season he was in charge of the Dohenys seniors, a club he played with during the 1990s after transferring from St Mary’s. (He moved back to Mary’s in 2000 before retiring in 2004).
In the ’95 county intermediate final against Kilmurry in Bandon, he kicked three points in 0-11 to 0-7 win that moved the Dunmanway men to the senior ranks.
But the four championship matches last year ended in four defeats, Dohenys senior relegation worries a real fear this term.
‘I always thought management and leadership with the same but they couldn’t be more different,’ Buckley said, reflecting on what lesson he learned from last season.
‘You often hear speeches about the difference between a manager and a leader. A manager will poke and prod and prompt and encourage and cajole and get someone to do something – but a leader will make them want to do it.’
Time is against Buckley and his management team – Finbarr McCarthy and Sean O’Donovan have stayed on as selectors from last season – ahead of the must-win clash with UCC in late March.
In some ways – and even though he won’t agree – he’s in a no-lose situation considering how late his appointment was, the short run-in to the game, the strength of UCC, Carbery’s recent championship record and their lack of preparation,
‘I see a picture in my mind where it comes together in the perfect storm,’ he says; his task now to translate that onto the field – and Buck the recent trend of short championship runs for Carbery.