A LOCAL derby with Valley Rovers is Newcestown’s introduction to this year’s senior football championship,with manager Tom Wilson feeling that both sides have an element of advantage.
Bandon is the venue on Sunday (3pm) with Valleys coming in off the back of a preliminary round win over Mallow last Saturday evening. While that has helped to give them momentum, it afforded Wilson and his team a scouting opportunity.
‘We saw Valleys last week,’ he says, ‘so their advantage is that they’re already after a championship game, our advantage is that we have seen them play.
‘That probably doesn’t make a huge difference in that we already know what they’re about anyway. They’re a big, strong, physical team who are capable of playing quite decent football.
‘You just look at their recent results, they beat Ballincollig in the championship last year, so they are quite capable.’
For the first time in two decades, Newcestown begin a championship campaign without John Crowley, the stalwart defender having retired along with Martin O’Brien, while James Desmond is only playing hurling for now.
Despite the loss of such key players, they are unbeaten in Division 2 of the county football league. ‘Things have been reasonably good enough,’ Wilson says. ‘We had two wins and two draws in the league. The two wins, I suppose, were against weakened opposition, they were quite big wins.
‘We felt early on that we should have beaten Castlehaven in the league but then we were lucky to get a draw, haven’t been caught for a couple of goals.
‘Against St Michael’s, we were well short ourselves on the day and we scrambled a draw, so all in all, it’s not too bad.’
As the only dual senior club from outside the city, balancing the demands of both codes is as always a significant challenge, but Wilson feels they are familiar with it by now.
‘The first year up, the big difference was the extra senior hurling league games, there’s a big pull on the players,’ he says.
‘Last year and again now this year, it wouldn’t have been that hugely different compared to when the hurlers were premier intermediate.
‘You try to divide the season as well as possible and you have to have agreement between the two team managements all the time.
‘The fact that we have two senior teams means that the system has probably worked.’
Wilson’s hurling counterpart this year is another local in Jim O’Sullivan – a former football manager himself – so does it make it easier when natives are in charge?
‘Any time we’ve had an outside coach, the teams would still been pretty much run from within with the selectors and that,’ he says.
‘No fella was going to get to run away with himself.’