BY KIERAN McCARTHY
RUAIRI Deane is on the comeback trail after his cruciate injury nightmare.
He played 60 minutes for Carbery in a challenge match against Duhallow on Monday night, but next Tuesday’s county senior football championship divisional section clash against UCC is likely to come too soon for the returning Bantry Blues ace.
Deane suffered the season-ending cruciate injury to his left knee after coming on as a first-half blood sub in the Munster final defeat to Kerry in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in July, and now, ten months later, the West Cork man is back on the football field.
But while Deane’s return is great news for his club, division and county, it’s highly unlikely that he will feature in Tuesday night’s knockout clash with UCC, in Macroom, at 7.30pm.
‘Ruairi is back from his injury, which is great to see. He got through an hour on Monday against Duhallow and that’s brilliant for him. It’s a plus that he’s back, but next week’s match might possibly be too soon for him,’ Carbery manager Gene O’Driscoll told The Southern Star.
Cork football boss Brian Cuthbert has praised Deane’s dedication and work ethic since he sustained the injury last summer, but sounded a word of caution – his comeback needs to be managed correctly.
‘When you think back to the Munster final and that horrific injury that he picked up, he has worked extremely hard with Colin Lane and Pat Flanagan, and I am looking forward to having him back,’ Cuthbert said.
‘He will offer us a lot when he is ready but with these cruciate injuries it’s managing guys coming back that is the secret to it. It’s going to be games with Bantry, then Carbery and taking it from there.
‘It’s a matter of building confidence too and, hopefully, he will be alright in a couple of weeks to come back playing with Cork again.’
While Deane is unlikely to line out against a UCC team that has Adrigole’s David Harrington in its ranks for this upcoming county championship campaign, Carbery will be picking from a similar pool to last season, backboned by Gene O’Driscoll’s three sons – Colm, Kevin and Brian – who are all involved with the Cork seniors, while former Rebel footballers Alan O’Connor and Graham Canty are also available.
Semi-finalists in 2013, Carbery were dumped out by eventual champions Ballincollig at the fourth-round stage last year, and Gene O’Driscoll admits that the West Cork side faces a huge test against the rated Cork college team.
‘When the draws are made you keep your fingers crossed that you avoid UCC and CIT because they put in a lot of preparation for the Sigerson, and it’s the wrong time of the year to be meeting them,’ the Carbery boss said.
‘We need everything to go well for us and for them to have an off day because they should have won the Sigerson Cup and they have a team of top-class players available to them.’
Carbery have prepared as well as they can for this winner-take-all game against UCC, meeting every Monday night for training, even though most nights they have the bare 15 players training, while they have also played a dozen games in preparation of a match that will define their season.
If Carbery lose then their county championship is over, and O’Driscoll feels it’s unfair that the same rules don’t apply to the club section of the senior football championship.
‘To me we are treated like second-class citizens. It’s the same competition but there are different rules – we are knockout but the clubs have a few chances to stay in. The whole thing should be knockout but besides that, it’s unfair that we aren’t all treated the same,’ O’Driscoll pointed out.