DESPITE the uncertainty surrounding the future of their Munster Senior League Division 1 campaign, Mayfield United captain Christopher McCarthy is maintaining a healthy outlook in the face of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Under the guidance of Craig Robinson, the 23-year-old has proven to be a talismanic presence for the Lotamore Park outfit.
While acknowledging an element of frustration with the current impasse, McCarthy — or ‘Kaka’ as he is affectionately known — is doing his best to keep in fighting shape for the eventual resumption of competitive fare.
“Lockdown has been and still is tough as it has affected everyone’s day-to-day life in terms of work, socialising and all other day-to-day activities.
“This whole situation is new to everyone, but you have to try stay as positive as you can, because it is tough on a lot of people for all different reasons,” McCarthy said.
“Our manager [Robinson] gave the squad and each player an individual training plan to follow while all this is going on so we are still tipping away.”
With just five games remaining in the second-tier of the MSL, Mayfield found themselves in a battle for promotion alongside Blarney United and Castleview.
Away defeats to Leeside and Everton had left them four points adrift of the former, but they were set to welcome the table-toppers to their home patch in the closing weeks of the season.
Given Mayfield possess the best defensive record in the division (just nine goals conceded in 13 games), there was every chance they could have claimed one of the two promotion slots up for grabs.
“It’s been a very enjoyable season. Craig Robinson and Niall Murphy got us all together even before pre-season and told us the ideas and plans they had and the standards they expect.
“The whole squad bought into it and the results have shown that. All the lads train to a high standard and put in the work but all our defenders are the fittest in our team. That might explain the best defensive record.”
A born and bred Mayfield man, McCarthy returned to his local side in 2018 following a five-year stint at Cobh Ramblers.
He was originally set to captain the club for a second consecutive term in the League of Ireland First Division, only for a chain of events to ultimately herald his return to junior soccer.
“I did most of pre-season with Ramblers that year. We played Cork City the last pre-season game and I did my knee in the MCL.
“I was going to be out for a couple of months. I decided to just take a break from things and recharge mentally and physically. So when I got fit again I decided to go back and play with all my friends in Mayfield.”
Although he doesn’t rule out another spell at the highest level, he is content with life in the southern leagues for the time being.
“I’m still only 23 so who knows. I have at least another 10 years to go so anything could happen.
“I am happy playing with Mayfield and the squad we have is full of ex-League of Ireland players. We have a good manager and team behind him which run everything professional, so I can’t complain.
“Mayfield is a great club, they’ve always looked after me. I played with Mayfield all the way up to schoolboys so it was great to get back playing with all my friends again.”
Nevertheless, McCarthy has nothing but happy memories when he reflects on his time with Ramblers.
After earning Enda McGuill Cup honours with their U19s in 2013/14, he transitioned smoothly into the first-team squad.
Under Stephen Henderson, Cobh twice challenged for an ascension to the top-flight in 2016 and 2017 — the latter campaign seeing McCarthy named on the First Division Team of the Year.
“It started with Martin Cambridge, Fingerz Fogarty and Henry Cullen with the U19 side if I’m being honest.
“They were very good to me. I didn’t want to leave Mayfield at the time because we had a very good team, but Martin convinced me and it was the right decision.
“Stephen Henderson is definitely one of the best managers out there in my opinion.
“I probably played my best football under him, the turnaround he did down in Cobh is not talked about enough.
“He always looked after me down there so I’ve nothing but good things to say about him,” McCarthy concluded.