JAMES McCarthy is ready to turn an old saying on its head with Castlehaven this season.
The old saying is that you should never go back, but that’s exactly what McCarthy did when he agreed last December to take charge of Haven’s senior football team for a second spell.
Manager in 2012 when Castlehaven won the Cork SFC, McCarthy came on board as a coach/selector with Jim Nolan last season, and after Nolan exited stage left, the club’s hunt for his successor was a short one.
‘The players’ hunger is there and that’s half the battle. It’s hard to say no to these players because I know what effort and sacrifices they make. If you have the players’ full commitment, it’s a great starting point,’ McCarthy said.
He added: ‘I have a good team around me as well, which is a big help. I wasn’t as hands on with training over the winter as I usually am, but that’s because I know I’ve the management team to take on that work.’
When McCarthy, who works full-time as the Carbery-Beara Games Development Administrator, took the job, he vowed to ‘freshen it up’ and he’s been true to his word as he has varied training to ‘challenge the lads.’
The Haven players have responded, but McCarthy knew they would, especially coming off the back of last year’s Cork SFC final replay defeat to Nemo Rangers. They have a point to prove this season.
‘Four or five years ago, if you told us we would be in this position we would bite your hands off, but we are disappointed because we have raised the standards and expectation levels. We have been in four finals since 2011 but we’ve only won two. We felt we left it after us the first day last year but Nemo kicked on in the replay and were the better side,’ McCarthy said.
Castlehaven will call on the same pool of players this season, with McCarthy confident the younger players will step up to compliment the established names like Mark Collins, Brian Hurley, Damien Cahalane, Chris Hayes, David Limrick, Sean Dineen and Shane Hurley.
‘Conor Cahalane only came on the team at the county final stage last year. Michael Hurley played very little football last year and he hardly trained. We’d be hoping those two would kick on this season. Darragh Cahalane is another fella we’re looking to kick on again this season, he started a few games last season,’ said McCarthy, who also noted the commitment and drive of 2003 county winners Paudie Hurley, Dermot Hurley and Liam Collins, who are still involved.
As for Clonakilty in round one of the Cork SFC in Rosscarbery on Saturday night, McCarthy is wary of the challenge, pointing to the ‘trimming’ they already gave Castlehaven in the league. The Haven have no injury concerns.