THE pandemic is, unfortunately, holding up the plans of the new Seandún senior hurling manager Paul McCarthy, whose enthusiasm has helped bring a refreshed energy to the city division.
Seandún were out of the Cork Senior Hurling Championship for many years but McCarthy isn’t bothered with rumblings coming from some corners of Cork GAA calling for divisions and colleges to be scratched from the championship.
“Everything is great with divisions when clubs are hammering them, but when a sleeping giant like Imokilly win the championship for three years on the belt, attitudes begin to change,” said McCarthy.
“Look at Seamus Harnedy who plays junior hurling with St Ita’s, he would never have played senior club hurling if he didn’t get the opportunity with Imokilly.”
Paul (39) has been a member of St Finbarr’s for the majority of his life and after beginning playing at Street Leagues, he then went to win an U16 county with a team that included Ronan Curran and Robert O’Mahony, scoring two goals in that final.
McCarthy openly admits that he drifted away from the game for a few years, but he did manage to play junior and intermediate hurling at the end of his career.
“I actually coached from U13 all the way up junior with the Barrs so I think over the years I have learned the pros and cons of the game.”
When you are a son of Gerald McCarthy — who won five senior All-Ireland medals — you are bound to have pride in the sport as Paul praised his achievements.
“I was never near his standard and to be the only player to win an U21 and senior All-Ireland medals in the one season was some achievement.”
So how does a man end up as manager of the Seandún senior hurling team?
I rang the Seandún secretary Mick Buckley on an off chance and from there it took off and to be honest we have a great set-up that all the players have bought into.”
The Seandún management team will see Justin McCarthy and Gordon Aherne from Passage with John O’Callaghan from Whitechurch also involved as a selector.
Indeed, McCarthy is really full-on as he brought the former Na Piarsaigh star, Mark Prendergast, in as a backs coach but with all sport in this country presently stalled the wait for action goes on.
“It is what it is, and we have to grin and bear it as the health and wellbeing of folk is far more important than sport.”
The main clubs in the Seandún set-up are Mayfield, Brian Dillon’s, and Passage, but with an extended panel of 72 the majority of the affiliated clubs in the division are rolling in behind the revival of the city hurling in Seandún.
Competing at the top tier of Cork hurling needs finance and in the words of McCarthy this team is self-funding.
“We are together since last October and in the opening weeks we figured out that we will need to raise our own money so we have a weekly Lotto on Facebook where we generate a couple of hundred euro and we have even done a virtual duck race so we’re tipping away nicely.”
The players in the squad purchased their own training gear and the commitment shown by all the squad was commended by McCarthy.
“We are very lucky to have a squad who are prepared to work on and off the pitch and it will be interesting to see how we fare on the big stage.”
McCarthy believes clubs in the Seandún division will improve from this venture.
“I think all the clubs in Seandún want to improve and that can only be good for Seandún in the coming years and hopefully when the championship eventually gets up and running the players will show they have to right to play in the top flight.”
Mayfield command the biggest number of players on the panel and Nicky Kelly will relish getting an opportunity to return to the top grade, as he was part of the CIT team that lost a senior county final.
The captain of the team is Darragh Rodgers from Brian Dillon’s, a player that has shown his commitment to the sport by returning after three cruciate operations.
“Darragh is a warrior and in my book a great leader and no doubt his influence will help the other lads in the squad.”
Family life is very important to Paul particularly in these strange times and his children Lauren, 20; Cian, 17, and Dylan, 13, are all keen sports fans.
Married to Lynda the importance of keeping positivity in your life during this pandemic is very important according to Paul.
These are tough times for many people as stress is causing families all sorts of problems and I think talking and staying positive is the best way to get through this horrible period.”
Although Paul McCarthy is a young man he comes across as one you would like to have in the trenches when in battle.
“This is not going to be a one-year wonder as we have a three-year plan and hopefully after that we can look back on our progress with pride.”