HAVING guided his native St Finbarr’s to a first county SHC semi-final in a decade in 2019, former Cork star Ronan Curran opted to spread his wings and take charge of Kanturk last year.
Competing in the new senior A grade, the Duhallow side impressed. Having topped their group with wins over Cloyne, Newcestown and Killeagh, they overcame Bandon in the quarter-finals to make it to the last four.
While they lost out there to eventual champions Charleville, it was a good year overall, with Curran picking up some valuable experience. Now, he will look to put that to good use as he takes the reins at the Barrs again.
The 2020 campaign was a tough one for the Togher outfit, with defeats to Glen Rovers and Na Piarsaigh ending their interest before a win over Carrigtwohill in their final outing eased any relegation fears.
While he didn’t foresee a return so quickly, Curran is glad to be back with his home club. Premier SHC Group stage meetings with county champions Blackrock, semi-finalists Erin’s Own and a reacquaintance with Charleville are challenges he welcomes.
“You don’t think about these things at the time,” he says, “they take their own route.
“I went to Kanturk for a year and I enjoyed it, I learned a lot. When I was with the Barrs two years ago, I had a great coach behind me in Ger O’Regan and I wanted to go away and do a good bit of the coaching myself, get a bit more comfortable with that side of it.
“I had a good time there and I’m back with the Barrs this year and I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, they’re funny years, last year and this year – it’s hard to get your hands on any system or that kind of stuff. There’s a lot to do be done but we’ve a good lead-up so I’m looking forward to starting this week.”
Up until now, Curran – like every other club manager – has been limited to giving players individual programmes and communicating via Zoom. The return of on-field action is welcome, though the fact that he wasn’t a completely new manager means that he wasn’t at a total disadvantage.
“That is a help,” he says.
“We know what we have here and I know the lads very well. Obviously, last year didn’t go according to plan but I do believe that the lads are better than that and hopefully they’ll be able to show it this year.
“Obviously, we’ve a tough group but I think they’re well able for it. Senior hurling now, with the teams that are in it, anyone can beat anyone, they’re all good teams there.
“It’s going to be tough but it’ll be tough for every other team as well.”
Curran has a high-powered backroom team behind him, including, Ger O’Regan, Brian O’Sullivan, Seán Cremin, Denis O’Regan, Tim Finn and Chris Buckley. And, while 2020 was disappointing at senior level, there was a lot of consolation in a first county minor title since 1997.
Having the best of that crop to call upon is also a help.
“Two played last year,” Ronan says, “Ethan Twomey and Jack Cahalane.
“You’ll have one or two more, Ben Cunningham will be in and around the panel, but a lot of the other minors are very young.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a few coming through in the next couple of years to make us stronger.
“There has been great work done with the underage and the street leagues, the likes of Kevin Murray and Seán McCarthy and obviously Briain Hurley and Jimmy [Barry-Murphy] were there last year.
“The work has been done by the club and it’s a case of carrying that on now a
“It’s been a tough year and a half or so,” he says, “both for the employers and the employees, as it has been for everyone.
“Things were dead for however long but we’re getting phone calls now again, people are coming back and getting excited, so things are getting busy and it’s great.
“It’s brilliant to see kids out on the pitch training away and ringing up for helmets. Our hurley is actually going extremely well at the moment too, which is great.”