IT’S always welcome when someone new puts their hand up and gets involved in coaching in any sport at any level.
Cork Camogie welcomed such an addition with Inniscarra’s Mark McCarthy, who at just 24 years of age is the new Cork Intermediate Camogie manager.
He was ratified earlier this year as manager having been the Hurling and Strength and Conditioning coach in 2019.
Possessing a BA in Sports Science and Physical Education from UCC with Maths as his chosen subject, Mark took a year out from education.
Rather than head straight down the teaching route, he put his knowledge and skills towards personal training.
“Yeah, I went down the sports route for this year,” Mark advised.
“I was looking to come out of education for a bit after being in it for nineteen years and I was enjoying the coaching, so I put the teaching on pause for a year.”
Based in Ballincollig with the Jerry Lynch Personal Training Centre, Mark joined up with Jerry after a stint in Dennehy’s Fitness in Blackpool.
Such is the success of the PT duo that within six months they opened a second unit in Glanmire in Old Christians rugby club.
They specialise in one to one work, putting individuals through their paces for 30 or 60 minutes.
“It’s going well,” Mark admits.
“We’re looking to open four units in four years.”
Mark’s baptism in Camogie came as a third-year student in UCC.
“In September 2017 I was asked by Dr Wesley O’Brien, lecturer and Strength and Conditioning coach with the hurlers, if I’d consider the position of S&C coach with the UCC Intermediate side.
“So Darragh O’Callaghan and I, who’s now the hurling coach with the Cork Intermediate side, came together as joint management and ran the Intermediates for that year.
“It was a great opportunity having not been involved in Camogie before to going directly into management.
“I was going back to the Intermediate team for the 2018/2019 season when John Grainger rang me saying that Dave Ellis the UCC senior Camogie manager was looking for a S&C coach, so I stepped up to that and I’ve been involved with them for the past two seasons.”
Mark’s own hurling career was shortened when he had surgery on both hips by the age of 21.
He played all the way though underage with Inniscarra and was playing an U21 hurling game when his career took an abrupt halt.
“I picked up a few injuries from just overplaying. The hip surgery is common enough. It’s called scoping where both hips were cleaned out and reshaped.
“It isn’t a replacement. I remember jumping up to catch a ball, coming down and both hips locked.
“The bones were after cracking off the side of their sockets. There are no issues since but that’s how I found myself going into personal training as I was out for 12 months.
“Then I went into coaching. I intended to go back playing sooner but the schedules just didn’t allow it but as a priority I need to go back playing as I’m going on 25.”
In 2019 With two seasons of UCC Camogie behind him Mark was called upon to get involved with Cork.
“March 2019, I got a call from Frances Killeen (former Cork intermediate manager) to step in as hurling and S&C coach.
“I jumped on that opportunity. It was certainly a learning curve. It took me two to three weeks to get to know the player’s names.”
How does the responsibility of manager rest on his shoulders?
“This year I find myself in a much better place. I know the players, the structure of Cork Camogie.
“You’re always learning though. I rely on Frances and the other selectors to fill me in on the opposition and whether theres any other player out there that we should be looking at.
“I just treated it again as another opportunity.
“We had a meeting and Frances couldn’t continue the manager role as her son Sean is on the Cork Minor Hurling panel and she’s really busy with that.
“I was voted in. I suppose the toughest part of the role was getting to know the players across the county.
“We wanted to give everyone an opportunity. I was given ample notice. We started with 89 names.
“We reduced that down to 63 fairly quickly.
“We’re now at 44. We’ve used the league to give everyone a game.
“We’ll reduce the panel to 30 for the championship. That’ll be the toughest decision we’ll have to make this year.
“Those that may not make it will have been blooded for next year or the year after.”
Cork have a home fixture left in the national league against Westmeath but with Meath uncatchable at this point that game may not now be played due to time constraints with Meath given the green light to go straight through to the final.
We’ll hopefully know the fate of the league in a couple of weeks’ time.
Mark acknowledges that they face a tough championship campaign.
“Yeah, it’ll be a tough challenge with home games against Meath, Laois and Tipperary and away to Kilkenny, Antrim and Derry.
“The two trips up the North will be tough and how we respond to that will be key.
“We’ve six games in seven weeks. But we’ll go all out for it.”