OVER the last number of weekshas been looking at some of the many contenders that will be vying for county championship glory in the coming weeks.
There are a host of clubs that will fancy their chances of claiming local honours but first they will need to extricate from their respective groups – a challenge that will be more difficult for some than others.
2020 will go down as the Covid year with the introduction of Senior A competition being forgotten by many however this grade has thrown up a host of mouth-watering ties with few arguing that the title of Group Of Death this year doesn’t go the one featuring Bandon, Mallow, Charleville and Fermoy.
Four sides that have all got the ability to beat the others – four sides that will surely feel that if they can get out of their group they are well on the way to a very positive season.
In recent weeks we have got the insight into two of the three North Cork sides from management and this week it was the turn of former Cork U20 manager Denis Ring as he once again leads Fermoy into the breach.
Along with Ring, Mikey Brennan, Trever Grumbridge, Luke Mannix and Shane Killeen will plan Fermoy’s assault on this season’s competition with Kieran Flynn, Tony Hartnett and Paul Howard (physical trainer) also playing their part in what is likely to be a challenging few weeks for the dual club.
“Ourselves and Bandon are the two teams in this group that have most dual players, said Ring as he prepares to head back to championship. Both of our football and hurling teams would have little between them and in our case we would have virtually all, bar our keeper, involved in both.
“We are a dual club and that really is the way it is. The whole philosophy around the club is that it is a dual club and players latterly play 50/50 hurling and football so from the perspective of players and management we all know that from the get-go. I know other clubs have gone other directions but not Fermoy.
“What it means day-to-day for us is that whatever time you have available to you and whatever players you have available to you, you must make the most of that. You have to be organised. No matter what happens we will have 50% of the preparation time with our players that a team like Charleville will have but that is not a complaint – it just is the way things are here.
“We will also have 50% of the time that Mallow are likely to have as they have only four or five dual players - Bandon are more similar to us but we definitely have the most.”
This season may have been a challenge for most and Fermoy don’t escape the difficulties Ring is just glad to be back.
“In the time-frame that we have had this season with the players things have been very problematic, very difficult for us. All that said it is fantastic that fellows will now get out to play but again for the dual club this is going to be a particularly difficult year.
“I think that single code clubs will come to the fore in every championship this season in both codes because of the short timescale. It isn’t anyone’s fault but still we really are raring to go and see what we can do this season.”
While the Covid restrictions will play their part Ring accepts that this will be a tough year for his charges particularly considering the group his side have been drawn in.
“You would have to say that Charleville have put their noses ahead of the others in recent times. What they achieved last year was significant, they were only a hairs breath away from beating Glen Rovers and their progress has been particularly impressive.
“Charleville have worked extremely hard in the last month or so, equally Mallow and Bandon have also. We are struggling a little coming in – we played Ballyduff the other night and it was our first match and we got some hammering.
“The first championship game for us is against Mallow, a big skilful side with the likes of Paul Lyons, Cormac Murphy, Sean Hayes, Pa Herlihy and Ronan Sheehan all very good players.
“We will have to hit the ground running and see what happens. We may be neighbours and we may have played at similar grades but we haven’t played Mallow in championship for years so that although we know the players we are not familiar to each other on the pitch. Should be an exciting opener.”