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The Last Word - Huge shame Carbery senior hurling team faces the chop

November 20th, 2016 6:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

The Last Word by Kieran McCarthy.

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YOU don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone – that’s a lesson that Carbery clubs could learn to their cost if the division’s senior hurling team is scrapped.

Next Monday night, in Dunmanway at 8pm, there is a meeting of clubs in the division to discuss the future of the Carbery senior hurling team.

There’s a real possibility that Carbery won’t compete in the 2017 county senior hurling championship and that the board will withdraw the team from the competition.

The past season was a dismal one for Carbery in the Cork SHC, as a 0-23 to 0-6 Round 1 hammering against Glen Rovers in May was followed by a 4-31 to 0-14 Round 2B thrashing against Ballinhassig in early July.

There are a number of reasons why the Carbery senior hurling team could be pulled for 2017 – indeed, once it goes, it will be a lot harder to bring it back – and at the top of the list is the general apathy from a number of the top local hurling clubs towards the team.

This year’s manager, Jerry Ryan, referenced that several times during this campaign when he outlined the lack of support for the Carbery hurling team: ‘If there’s to be a future for Carbery hurling, all the hurling clubs in the division, and the hurling managers, must come together and put a proper structure in place. Otherwise it’s a waste of time.

‘You can’t just put out a team on the night and hope to put in a performance and get a result. The players must also buy into the whole thing and you must have your best 15 on the field. That hasn’t been happening.’

When Carbery won the Cork SHC in 1994, the top clubs in the division powered the team, with Newcestown, Kilbrittain, Barryroe, Argideen Rangers all playing an important role in that famous triumph.

But times have changed. Clubs are more inclined to look after themselves first, with the Carbery divisional team viewed more as a distraction rather than the opportunity it could and should be for intermediate and junior hurlers to test themselves at senior level against the best in the county. It’s a shop window, a chance to show what you can do, make a name for yourself at a higher level. But it’s also an invite that goes unanswered.

The loss of both Newcestown and Bandon to senior hurling in the past 12 months has severely weakened the Carbery pick and the potential strength of the team, and without that backbone and the general lack of appetite in the division for this team, the future isn’t glistening in optimism. 

Unless Carbery clubs make a concerted effort to pull together, the guillotine will fall on the division’s senior hurling team.

It’s a far cry from last year when the Carbery board and then chairman John Corcoran fought, in vain, to enter a Carbery U21 hurling team in the 2016 county U21 A hurling championship – but the application was rejected by the county board CCC.

At the time, John Corcoran described the decision as ‘a serious body blow to hurling in the division’, as the Carbery board looked to create a pathway from minor through to senior for young hurlers locally, while also build on the recent success of the Carbery minor hurlers at county Premier 1 and Premier 2 championship levels.

‘We want to develop a Carbery senior hurling team,’ Corcoran told The Southern Star in October 2015 – but 13 months later that very same hurling set-up is facing the chop.

The fate of hurling in Carbery rests with the board and its clubs proposing viable solutions to this, and it’s imperative that they explore all avenues and possibilities to keep the senior team alive for the sake of hurling in the division.

What message will it send out to young hurlers locally if the Carbery senior hurling team falls by the wayside?

It’s commonly accepted that the standard of junior hurling in the division has slipped in recent times, but a committed Carbery senior team – with, crucially, the right structures in place – can help restore some pride and give the top local players a platform to show what they can do.

‘It’s frustrating knowing that there is hurling talent in the division but we can’t get it out on the pitch for Carbery,’ Jerry Ryan said earlier this year, and what could be more frustrating is that a lot of talented hurlers in Carbery could miss out on the chance to play senior hurling because the commitment isn’t there.

Carbery hurling clubs, if interested, need to give the divisional set-up their backing and commitment, and the Carbery board needs to get the right structures in place – now, not too late next year – which include blocking off dedicated nights for training and not fixing local games (involving clubs  on the team) on the same weekend that the Carbery senior team is in action.

It’s not too late to save the Carbery senior hurling team and if you want to make your voice heard, then go along to Dunmanway at 8pm on Monday night. 

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