BY KIERAN McCARTHY
SHANE Crowley isn’t buying into the theory that Castlehaven are a team on the wane.
In fact, he’s having none of it.
Even without the injured Brian Hurley spearheading their attack, Castlehaven are still a force to be reckoned with, Carbery Rangers joint-manager Crowley insists.
There’s no chance that Ross will underestimate their local rival ahead of Saturday night’s Cork SFC quarter-final in Dunmanway (7pm throw-in).
To reiterate, there’s no chance.
‘They still carry the same threat,’ explained Crowley when asked if a Haven team minus Brian Hurley instil the same fear.
‘The sum of their parts has always been something phenomenal. Whatever players they get on the field, no matter what the grade is, they play very well and they’ve fierce pride in their club and their jersey, so we have to be wary of that.
‘We need to be humble enough to treat them with the utmost respect, it’s the quarter-final of the county, it’s serious business now and Castlehaven would love to turn Carbery Rangers over.’
While this is Crowley’s first season with county champions Ross, both he and his current team have past, painful experiences of Castlehaven dishing out county championship woe.
Ross loss SFC semi-finals in 2011 and 2012 (but came back to beat the Haven in a 2014 fourth-round replay), and Crowley was in charge of the O’Donovan Rossa team that lost the 2015 semi-final to the Haven (1-13 to 1-10) at Páirc Uí Rinn. He doesn’t need reminding of the threat that Liam Collin’s men pose this Saturday.
‘We have to accept that we are favourites – and that’s because we won the championship last year,’ Crowley said.
‘The last time they met (2014), Ross took the scalp of Castlehaven but roles are reversed now, Ross are the scalp now that teams want.’
Crowley’s right, the dynamic has changed. This time it’s Ross on top and Castlehaven as the underdog, and he feels they’ll be well able to cope with the pressure.
‘Carbery Rangers have shown serious consistency over the last six, seven years. We’re always near the top of the Kelleher Shield and have been constantly involved in the business end of the championship, so there’s a lot of experience in the bank that the players can call on,’ Crowley explained.
‘When things aren’t going well, like in the Douglas (Round 2A) game (in July), the experienced players knew what they had to do to win the game and they did that.
‘We’ll need all our experience to turn Castlehaven over.’
Crowley feels that the 2-11 to 1-13 win against Douglas in their last championship game – both Ross and Castlehaven got a bye to the quarter-finals – was a ‘kick up the behind’ for the champs, a reminder that it’s easier to lose a championship crown than win one.
But he also feels that things are building nicely for the Kelleher Shield league leaders ahead of Saturday’s derby. Still, he knows the fire and fury that Castlehaven will bring with them. That needs to be matched.
‘We’ve been going decent enough but we know we need to step it up because we are there to be knocked down,’ he said.
Long-term injured trio Micheál O’Donovan (cruciate), Gearoid O’Brien (cruciate) and Paul Shanahan (back injury) won’t be involved even though the latter has returned to training, while Micheal Kelly and Brian Shanahan are carrying slight injuries and Thomas O’Rourke is getting back up to speed after spending the summer in the States.