CARBERY hurling manager Charlie Vaughan only discovered his team wasn’t being entered in this year’s county senior hurling championship when a player rang him on Thursday, May 6th after reading the lead story in The Southern Star sports section.
In fact, Vaughan received two calls from annoyed players before he had a chance to read the story in the Star headlined ‘Carbery hurlers opt out of championship’.
‘It was news to me and our management team that there is no Carbery senior hurling team this year. That was the first I heard of it,’ Vaughan says.
‘I was very disappointed that the Carbery board didn’t contact me, as manager, to let me know their decision.
‘The players were very disappointed too. They were upset because they felt that we didn’t have the decency to tell them the news before they read it in The Southern Star – but we didn’t know the news either.’
Vaughan is concerned that this decision, and the manner in which players and management learned of it, will undo the good work and progress he feels has been made in recent seasons.
Granted, he agrees that the condensed nature of this upcoming club season would have made preparations more challenging – but he feels Carbery could still have entered the hurling team, as they have with the division’s football side.
‘It would have been tough, we know that, but we would have gone ahead,’ Vaughan says.
‘We got a panel together in January with the aim of playing in this year’s championship.
‘Our players have all been training with their clubs and following programmes, individually first during lockdown.
‘These players want to play hurling for Carbery and we, as a management team, want to give them that opportunity. Look at our record in recent years, we have won championship games and we have given local club players the platform to play senior hurling.
‘We are moving in the right direction but the decision to not enter the team this year is a setback. We have a great group of lads and we have built up a trust and bond in recent seasons, but when we saw this news we genuinely felt that we left them down, even though we didn’t know this was coming.’
On Friday, May 7th, on the Carbery senior hurling team’s WhatsApp group, the management sent a message to their players. In it, the management explained that they had not been involved in this decision and had received no contact from the Carbery board.
‘We sent that message because we felt embarrassed about what had happened and how it happened. The players deserve better than that,’ says Vaughan.
This is the second year in a row that there will be no Carbery senior hurling team. Last season, because of the pandemic, the team didn’t enter. Carbery Chairman Tom Lyons, in a recent Southern Star, said that there will be a Carbery hurling team in 2022. Vaughan wants to be the man in charge again next season because as disappointed as he is, this has lit a fire in him and his selectors.
‘Like the Phoenix, we will rise again – and I am more determined than ever, as are the management team,’ the St Colum’s clubman stressed.
‘Look at our results in recent seasons and the progress we have made. We have won championship games. We have players who want to play hurling for Carbery and who want to test themselves at senior level. We had over 30 players training twice a week on the astro-turf in Ahamilla before Covid struck. We had a big win in a challenge game against CIT. We beat Avondhu in the county championship in recent years. That’s all momentum.’
In 2017 Carbery defeated Avondhu 2-23 to 0-17 in Round 1 of the Cork SHC and played three championship games that year. In 2018 Carbery lost their game against CIT by 4-18 to 3-7, but in 2019 they again beat Avondhu (2-16 to 0-18) in the opening round before eventually losing to county champions Imokilly, 0-24 to 0-10.
‘If you go back a few years, I was in Kilbrittain when we played in the Micheál Holland Cup – I was a selector at the time – and we only had nine players there that day,’ Vaughan explains.
‘It didn’t look promising for the Carbery hurling team, if there would even be one, but I wanted to make sure that this team kept going and we all worked hard to achieve that goal.
‘A few years later we held our own for the first quarter of the game against Imokilly before we had a man sent off and played three-quarters of the match with 14 men.
‘This Carbery team is a place where players can showcase their talent against senior teams – and they deserve that chance.’
Vaughan is more determined than ever to ensure the Carbery senior hurling team is back on the pitch in 2022.
‘Our management team wants these Carbery lads to have the opportunity to play at senior level,’ he says.
‘I’m stubborn and I will keep going, but it would probably suit some if we folded.
‘We seem to be a football division, which is very surprising when we have two senior hurling clubs in Carbery and a lot of talented players who want to play for Carbery. I’ve had players ring me the morning after championship games to say thanks for giving them a chance to play senior hurling. I’ve had injured players ring me to say how disappointed they are they couldn’t play.
‘The reward for the management team is giving these players their chance.’
Vaughan adds: ‘We will start again and we won’t give up – the players deserve that chance to play for Carbery.’