For a new manager pitching up at a club, the spring is ideally about bedding in and getting to know his charges ahead of the championship.
BY DENIS HURLEY
FOR a new manager pitching up at a club, the spring is ideally about bedding in and getting to know his charges ahead of the championship.
When that club has player involved with the county though, it can make things that bit more difficult, as Ned English is finding with O’Donovan Rossa, who have Ryan Price, Donal Óg Hodnett and Kevin Davis on the Cork panel, while Conor McCarthy is part of the backroom team.
The Skibbereen side face Nemo Rangers in their SFC opener in Bandon on Saturday evening (6.30pm) and English is still adapting.
‘They’ve gone as well as we could have hoped for,’ he says.
‘Early on, it was difficult until the daylight change, with pitches and lights. We were trying to do a bit of work on the Marsh, and it’s called the Marsh for a good reason!
‘We’ve done a bit of preparation but it hasn’t always been easy. We haven’t seen a lot of the Cork guys, we have four really with Conor and the three boys, it’s a large slice of a club side, with a relatively limited pick, believe it or not.
‘I saw Pricey and Donal Óg twice, I’ve only seen a half of football from Kevin Davis as he has been injured, and they’re big players for us.’
A year ago, English was with Ballincolllig, who began the championship with defeat to Bishopstown but managed to bounce back and reach the final, losing to Carbery Rangers. That experience means that English can at least be realistic about the importance of first-round games.
‘You have to get to know the players and what to expect from them, what you’re likely to get out of them,’ he says.
‘There has been progress, definitely, but I would say that we’re about 70 percent ready for this game. Will that be enough for Nemo? I don’t know. It was the same last year with Ballincollig against Bishopstown, championship was the first time we got to see the whole team together.
‘I said to them not to be too concerned with the result because there was another 30 percent in them.’
English, who has defenders Alan Tanner and John O’Sullivan and as his main injury worries, isn’t setting any parameters on what would constitute a good or bad year.
‘The target is always the same – be as good as you can be, and don’t set low standards for yourself, after that you leave it to God.
‘We have to do what we do very well, and after that we’ll be okay. If it’s not good enough, you go back and see what changes you can make for the next day.
‘The next day is an important game, we’ll be doing our level best, but it’s not a knockout game. We’re not putting everything on the players, I have to go through trial and error myself and see what works and what doesn’t.
‘We’ll look at that after the game on Saturday, what the players could have done differently and what we as a management team would have done differently. It’s very much a circle, as I say to the players, we’re all in it together. There’s waving a magic wand and getting a result.’
In the Kelleher Shield last weekend, Nemo warmed up with a convincing 3-18 to 0-12 win against Ilen Rovers while Skibb drew with Carbery Rangers, 2-10 to 0-16.