Carbery Rangers need win to avoid being dragged into relegation conversation
CARBERY Rangers’ experienced forward John Hayes is closing in on his 100th club championship game for Ross.
Hit-man Hayes is in line to feature in his 97th championship game – in his 20th season of adult football with his local club – when Ross take on rivals Castlehaven in a crunch Premier SFC game this Sunday in Leap (2pm).
Since he kicked two points in a Carbery JAFC first-round game against Gabriel Rangers in 2002, Hayes hasn’t stopped scoring – and he will need to bring his shooting boots this Sunday as Rangers look to avoid being pulled into a relegation scrap.
As it stands, the Rosscarbery team can’t advance to the knock-out stages after losing their first two Group B games – against Éire Óg and Newcestown – but there’s still a real chance they could become entangled in the relegation play-off if they lose to Castlehaven on Sunday and other results condemn them as one of the the two lowest ranked teams in the Premier SFC.
There’s a lot on the line for the 2016 county senior football champions, but they know if they beat Castlehaven, then they are more or less safe. If Ross lose, they’ll depend on results elsewhere to fall in their favour.
‘It’s a straightforward enough game to prepare for because it’s a win or bust game as far as we are concerned,’ Hayes told The Star Sport Podcast.
‘There is a possibility that we can lose the game and not be in the relegation final but we don’t want that scenario to happen. The only way we can be sure is to go and get a result against Castlehaven.
‘To be fair, the last couple of years have been a little more difficult for Ross, it’s a team in a little bit of a transition, but there are a few positives starting to spring up within the group. The performance against Newcestown, with 14 men for most of the game, was fairly decent. That was a hard championship battle and a lot of the younger, newer guys stood up to it. We could have got the result, we didn’t and now we are in another do-or-die game against Castlehaven. We know how big this game it is, and we need to get a result.’
Hayes (36) was suspended for the loss to Éire Óg but was back for the 0-9 to 0-8 defeat to Newcestown last time. He wasn’t at full tilt that day, carrying an injury into the game, and he’s demanding more from himself against Castlehaven.
‘I need to do better, I only got two points from frees against Newcestown even though it was a low-scoring game and I played further out the pitch, but I need to get scores on the board and I will be trying do that on Sunday,’ said Hayes, who has topped the scoring charts for Ross nearly every season since he won his place on the team.
But there’s more to Hayes than his scoring returns, the former All-Ireland winning Cork forward, who also served as a Cork senior football selector this year, is one of the most experienced club men in Cork football. There’s an archive of knowledge and football know-how that he can pass on to younger generation taking their first steps at senior level. That’s true too for Seamus Hayes, James Fitzpatrick, Brian Shanahan, Thomas O’Rourke, John O’Rourke and more of the team’s experienced core.
‘We need to go out and set the tone for the younger lads to come on board, and they are starting to show what they can do as well,’ Hayes explained.
‘When the U21 team won the Carbery U21A title, that was a great boost to the club and those guys are now starting to step up to senior level because there is a big gap between U21 and senior, but they are starting to make that progression and make an impact. If we can get both the older guys and the younger guys firing, hopefully we can get the result.’
Hayes knows the importance of Sunday’s game against Castlehaven, a team he has had great battles with in the last decade, and he will pull out all the stops to help Rangers get the result they need and avoid a potential relegation fight.
All four Group B teams still have something to play for
WHILE Castlehaven are through to the knock-out stages with one game to spare, James McCarthy’s men head into Sunday’s crunch clash with Carbery Rangers in Leap (2pm) with something to play for: the top group winner from the three Premier SFC groups goes straight into a semi-final.
Currently, four teams have 100 percent records after the first two rounds, and scoring difference will be key if two or more group winners finish with the same points.
As is, Douglas (+10), Castlehaven (+8), Clonakilty (+9) and St Finbarr’s (+4) are in the hunt for the automatic semi-final spot.
Castlehaven, however, are coming up against a Carbery Rangers team that needs a result to avoid being pulled into the relegation picture. The relegation final will be a straight play-off between the two lowest ranked teams (in terms of points won and scoring difference) amongst the three bottom placed teams from the three Premier SFC groups. Realistically, it’s two from Carbery Rangers (-7) from Group B, Carrigaline (-33) in Group A, and in Group C there are Ballincollig (-2) and Ilen Rovers (-11), so Ross know a win against Haven should take them out of the relegation equation, depending on results elsewhere. There is still a situation where Ross lose on Sunday, but avoid the relegation play-off, if two of the other three teams suffer heavier losses.
Elsewhere in Group B, the winner of Eire Óg v Newcestown in Kilmurry will take the runner-up spot and advance to the knock-out stages. Both teams are on two points, though Eire Óg has the better scoring difference in case it ends in a draw.