THERE will be plenty of West Cork interest in this year’s Cork intermediate camogie panel ahead of the Littlewoods National League Division 2 campaign.
Mark McCarthy is in charge of Cork’s intermediate camogie set-up once again this year. Yet to finalise his squad, the Inniscarra club man has a quality management team in place ahead of the build-up to the opening league fixture on May 15th.
Casting his eye over all the eligible individuals throughout the county, McCarthy is impressed with the quality of camogie players emerging from West Cork.
‘We are still developing our current pool of players having recruited from the Cork minor squad and other players we saw during the 2020 club championships,’ McCarthy explained.
‘The squad will be narrowed down before a final panel of 30 is selected but only after each player has been involved in eight Cork training sessions. That gives everyone a fair crack at making the 2021 panel.
‘There are plenty of West Cork players in the frame for selection. From Ballinascarthy, Claire Kingston and Moira Barrett will be training with us. Enniskeane’s Tara Sheehan and Danielle Carroll, Kilbrittain/Timoleague’s Áine Crowley, Kate Wall and Hannah Sexton are some of the other Carbery division players we will be looking at.
‘Jerry Ryan from Ballinascarthy is one of our selectors for the coming year as well. He joins Kevin Hannon (Courcey Rovers), Tom Harrington (Fr O’Neill’s) Tadgh O’Riordan (player analysis), Laura McCarthy (player liaison officer) and Daragh O’Callaghan (coach).
‘I’ve been involved with the Cork intermediates since 2019 and was delighted to accept an offer to take up the managerial role last year. Unfortunately, we ended up playing only a handful of league matches but I have a fantastic management team with me heading into year three. I get a bit of slagging for being the only manager yet to lose a championship match!
‘The whole idea behind having an intermediate grade is to bridge the gap for minor players coming through and offer a chance to club players that may not have previously featured on senior inter-county panels. We are talking to Paudie (Murray) in the senior set-up all the time.
‘Having said that, Cork is always looking to be as successful as we can when it comes to the intermediate grade. We are playing some county’s senior (first) teams which makes it quite competitive and we want to be successful.’
While a decision made off the field last year meant that the Cork intermediates couldn’t compete in the All-Ireland championship, McCarthy is looking forward now, not back. The Littlewoods Division 2 National League starts on May 15th. Guaranteed a minimum of three matches, McCarthy’s side begin away to Munster rivals Tipperary in Group 2. Next up is another local derby at home to Kerry before Cork finish off their group phase with a testing trip to Galway. The top two in each qualifying group progress while the bottom-placed teams enter relegation play-offs.
It is straight knockout after that with Cork looking at a maximum of six matches to claim a national league title. This year’s other Division 2 groups are made of Antrim, Down and Derry in Group 1, Wexford, Kilkenny and Laois in Group 2 plus Westmeath, Meath, Dublin and Kildare in Group 4. The national league final is pencilled in for the weekend of June 26th/27th.
There is still a question mark surrounding what happens with this year’s intermediate camogie championships. Talks of a possible split season, playing inter-county league first, reverting to club after that before returning for the All-Ireland intermediate championships, are ongoing.
‘Everything is up in the air in terms of a 2021 All-Ireland intermediate championship and we are waiting for the Camogie Association to make a decision on that,’ McCarthy said.
‘We don’t know if camogie will revert to a split-season with club and inter-county championships completely separate. Cork is like every other county involved in that we don’t know where we stand at the minute.
‘Having spoken to our players, most of them are in favour of a split-season. They enjoyed the camogie club campaign last year without the distraction of inter-county training or multiple setups demanding their time. A lot of our squad play ladies football as well.’