CARBERY Rangers have the talent to force their way back into the leading pack in the Premier senior football championship, insists new Ross boss Declan Hayes.
During his own senior playing days he helped Carbery Rangers reach the pinnacle in 2016 when the Rosscarbery men won the club’s first-ever Cork SFC title – and Hayes feels the current crop has the potential to be in the mix for the big prizes.
In 2020, Rangers failed to progress from the group stages, which was in stark contrast to their high standards of recent years.
They finished runners-up in 2014, semi-finalists in 2015, winners in 2016, semi-finalists in 2017 and 2018 and third rounders in 2019 before failing to make the knockout stages in 2020.
‘Last year was a big disappointment,’ admits Hayes, who takes over the senior managerial reigns from Michéal O’Sullivan.
‘We always pride ourselves on our consistency and have been a top-four team for a long time. There is a determination to get back there. It won’t be easy because we were first seed in the 2020 draw. This year we will be a third seed so the probability of a tougher draw is higher.
‘As a team, Carbery Rangers has a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be. Last year didn’t work out great and confidence is a little bit low but if we maximise our potential, look at where we can go. That potential is all we are focussing on right now.’
It’s only a year since Hayes retired from senior football, and he has decided the time is right to make the transition from player to manager. The Hamilton High secondary school teacher heads into one of the most demanding Cork club managerial roles with his eyes wide open.
‘I have no prior experience of managing a senior football team so all I can do is draw on my life experiences, using what I can from all the sporting and non-sporting figures I listen to and read about,’ Hayes says.
‘I am walking into a dressing room with 40 players and where everyone is different. You must treat everyone with the same respect and try to galvanise different personalities. That’s primarily what’s involved in management whether it is a school, company or football team.
‘If you are asking me why I am taking this job then I suppose, managing Ross is something I was always interested in. This has been an ambition of mine after I did a good bit of work with the club’s underage section and really enjoyed it.
‘When is the best time to take on something like this? I’m only a year out of playing and still close to a lot of the players. So, there is never a perfect time to become a senior manager but this is as good a time as any.
‘Weighing up whether or not to get involved in a job like this, it has to excite you. I believe there is a huge amount of potential here.
‘We have a lot of experienced players on the senior panel who know what’s required to play at this level.’
Hayes’ excitement at being handed the Carbery Rangers senior manager’s role is evident.
His new-look management team is equally enthused about the prospect of restoring Carbery Rangers to the top table of premier senior football.
‘I am hugely enthusiastic about it,’ Hayes agrees.
‘James Kingston is on the management team after coaching the minors over the past number of years. Mark Ronan, Adam Doyle and Denis McSweeney will also be involved.
‘We also have John Holly, a Kerry man, coming in to do a bit of coaching. We are delighted to get him as John would have been involved with St Michael’s the last couple of years and has experience with UCC and Cork development squads as well.
‘I am the manager but this will be a collective management team effort. I wouldn’t have got involved without this management team that I have around me. We are ready to embrace the challenge and are raring to go.’