FOUR months is a long time in club GAA terms and Carrigtwohill have certainly benefited from the chance to replenish themselves.
Back in April, the East Cork side were on the wrong end of a 24-point SHC first-round loss to St Finbarr’s but bounced back a fortnight ago with a good win over neighbours Killeagh and followed that on Saturday with victory over Bandon in Ovens.
It earned them a spot in the quarter-finals of the championship for the first time since 2015 and, even more importantly, earned them a place in the 12-team premier senior grade for 2020. Carrigtwohill coach Keith Ricken believes that the team deserve huge credit for turning their season around.
“I think they made a decision themselves,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good work being done at the moment, the U21 team are doing well, the minors, the U16s and the U14s, so they’re trying to hold it for as long as they can, fly the flag.
“I would say this – down through the years there have been great hurlers for Carrig, but there have been no better men than the boys here – they played for Carrig when nobody wanted to.
“They’ve really worked very hard over the last few months and it was difficult when they weren’t going well but the Killeagh game gave them a great lift.
“To see the pep in the step last week when they came down training, it was great and out there the hurling was excellent at times and they worked hard. Yeah, we’re short in quality compared to the likes of Imokilly but we have bags of heart, bags of hurling and toughness, good goalkeepers and good defenders and good forwards that work hard.
“I’m delighted for those lads that they’re in a quarter-final and premier senior for 2020. With that comes its own responsibilities but that’s what they’ve asked for. They got a right thrashing in the first round but this is a different team now.”
Having led by 0-6 to 0-4 at half-time, Carrig fell behind when Ronan Crowley goaled for Bandon but a pair of green flags from Brendan Twomey helped to secure a 2-10 to 1-11 win.
“We’ve worked hard on that all year, it’s what we’ve been focusing on, to bring a bit of positivity to the guys,” Ricken said.
“It’s something they have really taken in, they’ve really bought into it.
“People gave out to me this year because I was doing the 20s [Cork U20 football team], but this is my hobby, I don’t do anything else, I don’t play golf or anything like that.
“It does me well every time I come down to the field and do a session. The lads are doing great work, [manager] Marty [McConville] is a superb guy and does a pile of work, John [Horgan] and Jim [O’Connor] and Mick Boland too.
“It lifts you that, in your own parish, there are 20-odd guys giving it their lot. The panel is getting bigger and stronger, there are fellas coming back from injuries, so there’s a bit more positivity around the whole place.”