LAST week’s draws for the 2021 Cork County Championships were watched keenly all over the county, nowhere more so than at the home of the 2020 Senior A Hurling champions, Charleville.
The club, which has seen a meteoric rise through the ranks over the last decade, was in with the traditional big boys for the first time this year, drawing the 2020 Premier Senior champions Blackrock, last year’s beaten semi-finalists Erin’s Own and one of the traditional giants of the county hurling scene St Finbarr’s — to make one of the most exciting foursomes possible for this season’s competition.
Mervyn Gammell has been at the heart of Charleville hurling for 20 years or more assisting Claude Gough to victory last time round.
This year, Gammell will be linking up with new Charleville manager and former Limerick great Mark Foley as the team look to cement their position as one of the top teams in the county.
“It is great to have a Limerick double All-Star like Mark coming on board this year after Claude stepped away for a while,” said Gammell after some time to reflect on what his side is likely to face in the coming months.
“Mark will be a great addition to the club and our chances of succeeding but it really isn’t about the people outside the line it is about the men that cross the whitewash and play — they are the important ones.”
Turning away from personalities and focussing on the draw Gammell recognises the challenges ahead and feels his side have a lot to do but he is confident.
“There is no doubting that this is a tough draw for us, it would be a tough draw for any club but as fourth seeds it was never likely to be an easy draw.
“We have the county champions, the side beaten in the semis last year and the Barrs.
For Charleville just to be able to say that we would be playing the Barrs or Blackrock’s first teams in championship a few years ago who would have believed it.
“All the people I met over the first 24 hours were talking about is that we are going to be playing the Barrs — I know they haven’t been the force of late that they were but they will rise again.
“All that said, Charleville have come a long way and not by luck.
“We have been progressing through the divisions and fought hard to get every step of the way – and we will fight hard again this year.
“I know we were up (senior) a couple of years ago but because of the restructuring we only got to play two senior matches.
“This time it is different and this time we will give it everything to compete as one of the top clubs in Cork.”