BY JOHNNY CAROLAN
NEW Carbery hurling manager Joe Ryan is keen to put out as strong a team as possible as the division looks to build on encouraging performances in 2022.
Ryan was a selector last year as well as leading his native Ballinascarthy to the South-West JAHC and he will combine the two managerial roles for the coming campaign.
Last year, Carbery competed well in their opening Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC Divisions/Colleges stage one match against Avondhu, falling to a 2-23 to 3-15 defeat after the North Cork side – who would go on to advance to the second stage of the competition – scored a late clinching goal. In their back-door match, Carbery met Duhallow and were unfortunate – despite having to make seven changes from the Avondhu game, they wiped out a six-point deficit in the closing stages and were only denied extra time but a winner at the death.
Having been encouraged by what he saw, Ryan was willing to step up when a vacancy arose.
‘Charlie Vaughan and John Paul O’Callaghan decided to take a step back this year,’ he says.
‘Along with Kevin McCarthy, they’ve carried the can for the last few years. I got involved last year, just to help out really, and I was really pleasantly surprised with the games against Avondhu and Duhallow.
‘First of all, how strong the team was that we put out against Avondhu and then how they played in both games.
‘I was happy enough to stay involved – I didn’t foresee myself becoming manager, to be honest – but I wanted it to continue. I felt that the lads deserved it.
‘I’m of the opinion that, if there’s a competition we can enter, we should be entering it. If this is available to Carbery, they should be represented.
‘Kevin McCarthy from Barryroe is staying on and Fergul Keohane from Kilbrittain is getting involved and he’d have worked with a lot of these lads at underage. I’m delighted to have the two lads involved, because they’d have much more experience than I would.’
Carbery will look to ramp up preparations as the June date for the divisions and colleges section approaches. As a club manager, Ryan – son of Jerry, who has managed Carbery hurling and camogie sides as well as serving as a Cork selector under Denis Walsh – knows how busy players are, especially when there are so many involved who play both codes for their clubs. He will apply a pragmatic approach.
‘It’s just common sense, really,’ he says.
‘There’s no point me flogging fellas or giving out programmes or anything like that. They’re getting that already, so all we want to do is give them a few skill sessions – at best, maybe a game.
‘Even at that, it’s just about getting them together and trying to get the best possible players out.’
Ultimately, what will determine how successful a year it is for the division will be the strength of the squad available. Last year, Carbery fielded players from premier intermediate side Bandon as well as premier junior trio Kilbrittain, Argideen Rangers and Barryroe along with a host of junior A clubs and something similar will provide a strong base.
‘I think, based on last year, we probably gave Avondhu their closest run and they made it out of the first divisional stage,’ Ryan says.
‘I’d be confident enough that, if we got a strong team out – as strong as, if not stronger than, last year – we’d have a good chance of getting a bit of momentum.
‘If we were able to get a win, that’d be great – we’re not really in a position to look past that, really!’