BY KIERAN McCARTHY
TWO new managers will be in opposite corners when Castlehaven and Clonakilty clash in the opening round of the 2016 Cork senior football championship.
One of two West Cork derbies along with the meeting of O’Donovan Rossa and Carbery in the first round of next year’s Cork SFC, there have been changes to the management teams of both Castlehaven and Clonakilty.
County-winning manager James McCarthy is back in the hotseat in Castlehaven while Paul Holland (Argideen Rangers) is the new senior manager of Clonakilty.
Exciting times at both clubs, with McCarthy already looking forward to the derby: ‘Our short term aim will be to be beat Clon. They had a bad year last season but they have won the last three West Cork U21 A football titles and they have the players coming through so it will be hard.’
The winner of the Castlehaven v Clonakilty tie then meets the winner of Newcestown v CIT in Round 2A, while the loser of Haven v Clon will be up against either St Nicks or Carrigaline in Round 2B, as the revamped format comes into action.
Another local tie is the meeting of O’Donovan Rossa and the Carbery divisional side – a game that the current Kelleher Shield champions and county semi-finalists, Rossas, will be wary of, as Skibb manager Shane Crowley explains.
‘Carbery are, traditionally, one of the strongest divisions and on paper they will be very strong,’ Crowley said.
‘It’s one of those games that some teams like to avoid because Carbery are a strong division, but it’s a test and that’s the position that we want to be in – testing ourselves.
‘We will go with the same focus as we did this year and focus on that game when the time comes. That it’s a local derby adds a bit extra to the game.’
2015 was a year of progression for the Skibbereen side and they want to continue that in the new year, and take the next step.
‘We have to improve. We’d only be fooling ourselves if we thought we had our work done. Looking back we felt we left ourselves down badly in the championship semi-final and that’s something that we want to rectify,’ Crowley said.
‘We know we need to step it up again and work even harder in 2016 if we want to build on what we achieved this year. We progressed the group, but the work starts again in January, and for both the players and the management we all need to step it up another level.’
The winner of Carbery v O’Donovan Rossa meets the winner of Beara v St Finbarr’s in Round 2A, while the loser takes on Valley Rovers, Avondhu or Ilen Rovers.
2015 semi-finalists Carbery Rangers will face a tricky test against Clyda Rovers in round one, while Dohenys will pit themselves against Douglas. Ilen Rovers play Avondhu in the only preliminary round match with the winner to face Valley Rovers in round one.
Beara start their campaign against St Finbarr’s, while champions Nemo Rangers lock horns with Duhallow.
2016 Cork SFC draw
Preliminary Round: Avondhu v Ilen Rovers
(A) Aghada v Muskerry
(B) Beara v St Finbarr’s
(C) Carbery Rangers v Clyda Rovers
(D) Dohenys v Douglas
(E) Newcestown v CIT
(F) Ballincollig v Bishopstown
(G) Valley Rovers v winners of Avondhu/Ilen Rovers
(H) Clonakilty v Castlehaven
(I) Carbery v O’Donovan Rossa
(J) Seandun v UCC
(K) Nemo Rangers v Duhallow
(L) St Nicholas v Carrigaline
Round 2A (winners from Round 1): I v B, L v G, J v F, D v C, E v H, A v K.
Round 2B (Losers from Preliminary Round and Round 1): Avondhu/Ilen Rovers v D, H v L, F v B, K v J, G v I, A v E, C – a bye.