KIERAN McCARTHY sat down with Mike O’Brien to chat about life as Castlehaven football manager
MIKE O’Brien is the postman who is confident he can deliver success to Castlehaven.
In his job, he always delivers. Now in charge of his home club he feels he can make a difference to a team that reached the last four of the county senior football championship last season.
‘I think this team can progress more this year. I really believe that,’ O’Brien told the Star Sport Podcast this week.
‘The incentive is to try and improve a bit more (from last season). The younger lads will learn a lot from last year, they should improve a bit from that.
‘I think confidence is a big thing in football. If you can bring a winning formula into the system and fellas believe in themselves, anything is possible.’
O’Brien is a big believer in playing football with a smile on your face. He wants Castlehaven players to enjoy their football. If they do that, the performances should follow. In Division 2 of the county football league Castlehaven have four wins from four games with victories against Kanturk, Newcestown, Mallow and Aghabullogue.
The signs O’Brien has seen since he took over have been encouraging.
‘To enjoy football is important. There are times when fellas go out there and are too tensed up and are afraid to go out and express themselves on the pitch. I’ll be telling our lads to go out there and enjoy their game and perform. I believe they can do that this year,’ he explains.
‘It helps if you enjoy your football. If your head is down, it’s like anything in life, the whole thing will fall down. Whereas if you enjoy your game and you want to be there, then your game will improve big time. That’s showing in our games and our training sessions. Since I came in the effort has been outstanding from them all.’
When his home club came calling for him to take charge this season he couldn’t say no. After he led Gabriel Rangers to West Cork and county JAFC glory in 2016 there was the opportunity then to take charge of Castlehaven. He said no. He couldn’t leave Gabriels after one year.
Two years later, and after three seasons with Gabriels, he felt it was time they needed a fresh voice, and Castlehaven moved fast to get their former player and selector on board.
‘It’s a job I always wanted to do at some stage,’ he says.
‘It was hard to leave Gabriels because we had such success but then to come back to your home club and get involved with your own lads again was a great incentive.’
Taking the hot seat in your club brings its own pressure and add in the high expectations in Castlehaven, but O’Brien knows the club better than most.
‘Being a Castlehaven club man in charge of the club brings an extra bit of pressure probably but I’ll bring that on board and use it as an advantage. It drives you on as well,’ he says.
‘With Castlehaven it’s a family thing, everyone pulls together and that’s why the club has been so successful down through the years. Everyone gives 110 per cent for the cause. I am like any other manager who has been with Castlehaven before – you go in there with the right incentives and hopefully you can achieve things.’
One of O’Brien’s first jobs when he took over was to bring Niall Cahalane and Sean O’Neill on board in his management team.
‘Niall was the first man I asked. He has a world of experience with Cork and Castlehaven down through the years. He’s been away from the club for a few years, he wasn’t involved, but he was the first man I wanted to bring on board with me. He will offer an awful lot to us this year.’
O’Brien adds: ‘Expectations are always high in Castlehaven but for me I’m looking forward to the weekend. It’s the next game always for me. If you look too far ahead you’ll get lost. Always look at the next step. The next step for us is Fermoy.’
That’s Castlehaven’s county senior football championship opener in Brinny on Sunday. It will be a game the West Cork club will be expected to win but being without the injured Hurley brothers will make a difficult game against last season’s premier intermediate champions that little bit trickier.
Still, O’Brien feels he has the right ingredients to move this Castlehaven team forward. It’s a team that was involved in the last four of the county championship last season and was also involved in that epic trilogy against Duhallow, so they showed they weren’t too far off the top. O’Brien learned a lot from his time with Gabriels and he sees no reason why their success can’t be replicated on a bigger scale now.
‘My emphasis is always about bringing fellas together as a squad. I probably learned that if you get fellas in the right frame of mind and fellas wanting to achieve the same thing, then you can achieve anything. Gabriels showed that,’ he explains.
‘It was a club that had won one West Cork in their lifetime before and we went on to a Munster final that year (in 2016, after winning West Cork and Cork titles). It was phenomenal really. It shows that if the effort is put in and the right attitude is there then anything can be achieved.’
The clocks have gone forward and the longer evenings have finally arrived which can only mean one thing – the lawn mowers are out. A wealth of knowledge is on hand at Bandon Co-Op’s three stores in Bandon, Enniskeane and Kinsale thanks to each of their in-store experts who are there to share their vast experience