NEW manager Declan Hayes wants to put his own stamp on Carbery Rangers senior football team.
He begins his managerial reign with a Cork Credit Union Football League Cup 1B tie away to Cill na Martra on bank holiday Monday.
Hayes was involved in the club’s senior management team last season, as a selector under then manager Haulie O’Sullivan, but he has taken over the hot-seat in his home club this year.
‘It was always something that I had an ambition of doing,’ Hayes told the Star Sport Podcast.
‘I did a bit of coaching underage with the minors. I retired from playing in 2019 and went straight from being a player to being a selector with Haulie. Being part of his back-room team for a year has helped with the transition.’
Even in his playing days – and he was a key man with Ross for years – Hayes held an interest in the coaching and tactical side of football. He has been involved in the underage side of the club for the best part of a decade, with U14 teams up to minor, and he felt he was always learning from the managers he played under, both with Carbery Rangers and also the Carbery divisional team before his club went senior.
Long-time Ross boss Haulie O’Sullivan as well as current Cork senior football manager Ronan McCarthy who led Rangers to their first Cork SFC title in 2016 have both left an impression on Hayes.
‘I played under Haulie the most. He took over the Ross seniors around 2012 and we would always have said that Haulie retired as a player too soon,’ Hayes said.
‘He started coaching us when he probably could still have been playing. Towards the end of his playing career he probably thought he could make the biggest difference coaching us. He sacrificed the end of his playing career to coach us, and he did very well. I learned a load off him, his training sessions were very enjoyable, especially the football side of it.
‘Ronan McCarthy was different when he came in. He was an outsider, he was totally detached, didn’t know any of the players and that was an advantage in a way because he could be as cold and ruthless as he wanted to be. He had Maurice Moore with him who did a lot of good work. We had Shane Crowley from Skibbereen too – and you learn a bit off everyone.’
While Ronan McCarthy had the advantage of coming in from the outside, Hayes is a Ross man who played alongside a lot of the players he will now coach. Going from being their team-mate to their manager will be a change, but Hayes and his management team won’t be afraid to make the tough calls either.
‘We were talking after training lately and we were saying that we have a game on Monday and we can only bring 24 players – we have a panel of 40-plus – so straightaway there will be a few people disappointed,’ Hayes explained, before adding that everyone will be given a chance as Ross have a busy start to the season with the new League Cup as well as the Tom Creedon Cup. That’s six games in six weeks so there will be plenty of opportunities for players to put their hands up for a starting spot.
Hayes has put together a backroom team that includes John Holly (coach), James Kingston (coach/selector), Mark Ronan (selector), Adam Doyle (strength and conditioning) and Denis McSweeney (logistics). Even though this is his first senior managerial job, Hayes has a vision of how he wants to run things.
‘Like everything else, including teaching, things are changing,’ the Hamilton High School teacher explained.
‘With teaching, it’s not whereby you are talking and they are listening anymore, you have to give ownership to students in school. It’s the same with players – they have to take ownership for their own fitness, their conditioning, their performances.
‘You have to take feedback from them, too. The days of you saying to players this is what we are doing and that’s that, they are gone.
‘Players are giving so much of their time now, they have to have an input into what’s going on. As a management style it would be very inclusive of people and of their opinions, and eventually the management team will make their calls and the players will buy into that.’