Fermoy raise their game as they prepare for life in senior football

Fermoy raise their game as they prepare for life in senior football
Fermoy's Padraig Clancy against Naomh Abán. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

FERMOY were in Paul Howard's Rejuvenate Health and Fitness gym in town the night of the championship draws back in January.

Manager Mick Hennessy had no issue in mentioning the reaction to drawing Castlehaven in round 1 in Brinny on Sunday at 3.45pm.

“A fierce roar went up,” he recalled. “We're happy with it because it's great to measure where you are against a club like the Haven with all their Cork players, history and tradition,” Hennessy added.

Fermoy's 54-year wait since they last competed in the top grade ended with a long over-due premier intermediate success in 2018.

They reached the Munster club final, losing to the eventual All-Ireland champions, Kilcummin, by eight points, having won games en route to the decider.

That afternoon, Fermoy learned a valuable lesson about the level of physicality at the higher echelons of the game.

“The players themselves recognised it was something they could work on. We worked in the off-season as part of a two-year project.

“We brought in Paul, a friend of mine who was involved with the Tipperary footballers.

“He's from Fermoy, has a business in the town and I just rang him up to ask him to get involved. Paul's looking after all the physical stuff.

“It has to be managed properly because of the dual club. We have to be careful how we handle players' intake.

“There's more to it that simply building muscle. There's a bit of everything really, but you can't be overdoing it either because players can be prone to injury.

“We booked in to his gym on Mondays and Fridays in January and didn't hit the pitch until the week before our first division 2 league against Mallow.

“There's a lot more science involved now. The days of slogging around pitches are over.

“A week after the Kilcummin game we played the league final against Carrigaline in December before the players switched off and that was important, too. 

Paul was a different voice and players needed that, as well.” 

Fermoy insist they've no intention of just making up the numbers and have raised the bar high in terms of their expectations and demands.

Despite losing that opening game to Mallow, Fermoy bounced back to win their next four games, re-discovering that winning feeling again.

Their winning run included success against Clyda Rovers in their most recent outing to sit top of the table on 21 points, one clear of the Haven, who've played a game less.

Sunday's championship game is doubling up as a league game, too, just to add further interest to the outcome with the west Cork itching to return to the top tier following their relegation two years ago.

“All we can do is take each game as it comes. If we can impose ourselves in the senior championship and become a force in the next two or three years, that's what we want.

“We don't want to be senior just for the sake of it. We're up there to have a crack off it.

“Four or five games and you can win a county. That's the way I look at it. You set yourself up to win four or five games.

“I know it's bold, but there's no point pretending you're happy just to be up there playing senior.

“We're trying to progress. It could take a few years. We could even have a fantastic year this season or we could find ourselves in trouble. Who knows?” 

Fermoy will have the usual reliables on either side of the whitewash though Sean O'Hagan has stepped down as a selector.

Hennessy is also stressing the importance of blooding youngsters during the season with the bigger picture in mind.

“Our U21s drew with Mitchelstown, lost to Kilshannig and Charleville so we're gone from the north Cork championship, but there is good talent there.

“It will take a few years for them to break through but we have to start now because there's no point in waiting another two or three years.

“All of a sudden you could find a massive drop off in integration to the panel. That has to happen to the team now."

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