CARBERY RANGERS saw off Clonakilty in the first round of the Cork SFC last Sunday but the winning management team and panel have no idea when they will next tog out in the championship.
A 0-11 to 0-8 opening round victory pleased returning Rangers manager Micheal Haulie O’Sullivan but there is still plenty of work to do whenever the Carbery side returns to championship action later this year.
“We are delighted with the victory, in fairness to Clon, they took the game to us and the way the weather was today, there was never going to be more than three or four points in it,” Haulie O’Sullivan admitted.
“I thought we started slowly and Clon also showed a lot of intensity throughout the first half.
"We went in 0-6 to 0-3 ahead but knew we had a huge amount of work to do in the second half. Clon came back into the game during the final quarter and made a fierce battle of it.
“Only for Paul Shanahan’s save near the end when there was only three points in it, I think the result could honestly have gone either way.”
Former Cork inter-county forward John Hayes echoed his manager’s sentiments, admitting Clonakilty were a much tough proposition than their previous championship meeting back in 2017.
The involvement of younger talent was another positive during an important win for the former county champions.
“It was a completely different game to 12 months ago in that there were heavier pitch conditions and Clonakilty brought a physicality that they didn’t have last year,” Carbery Rangers corner forward Hayes noted.
“We were worried there for a while until we settled after half time and got a few scores. Clon came back at us again but we held out in the end. Seeing some of the younger players coming off the bench and making a contribution was definitely something else that we needed.
“It is no secret that our team has been on the road a long time, especially a number of our forwards, so to get fresh blood in there like Mark Hodnett, Darragh Hayes and Sean O’Neill is important as we need a full squad to select from. Other teams know a lot about us already at this stage so maybe some of the younger lads coming in will give us something new.”
Having safely negotiated the opening round, Carbery Rangers do not know when they will be back in Cork SFC action.
Depending on how the Cork inter-county footballers fare this summer, John Hayes and his fellow players will effectively be part of a new championship involving 16 teams that has no start date.
“I’m already on record about my feelings towards the state of our club championship,” Hayes commented.
“At the highest level, something has to be done about shortening it (championship). The way it is, we are effectively going into another first round tie in July, August or whenever. Not knowing when we are going to play next is completely unsatisfactory.
“It is very frustrating for all club players in Cork and maybe we would be as well to complete a full league campaign first and then go into a proper championship immediately after, straight knockout or back-door, whichever.
“There has to be a better way of organising a club championship but I think that decision has to come from the top of the GAA. Right now, it is just very frustrating not knowing when we play again.”