Cork hurling: All change at city’s big three for new Premier SHC campaign

Blackrock, the Glen and the Barrs have management roles to fill for 2022
Cork hurling: All change at city’s big three for new Premier SHC campaign

Ronan Curran served twice as St Finbarr's manager. Picture: Larry Cummins.

A NEW year, a new beginning and for quite a few clubs in the Cork County Premier SHC, a new management team.

There will be managerial changes every year, that’s the nature of the job, failure to make the desired impact in the previous season, work commitments, and family reasons decree that change will always be necessary.

Over the past number of weeks and months we have seen some significant happenings in some of the leading clubs on Leeside.

In the big three city clubs of the Rockies, Glen, and Barrs the men at the helm have all stepped away; Fergal Ryan in Church Road, Ian Lynam in the Glen, and Ronan Curran out in Togher.

Add in the departure from Midleton of coach Ben O’Connor and Pat Mulcahy from Newtownshandrum and it all means that there will be a lot of new faces patrolling the sidelines when the 2022 championship season gets underway.

That is quite some distance away yet with the inter-county season preceding it.

However, there will still be an urgency to fill the vacancies, with the league the ideal platform to experiment before the club championship.

It probably came as no great surprise where some of the departures were concerned, particularly in Blackrock where Fergal Ryan has given some fantastic service over the past few years which culminated in 2020 with the Seán Óg Murphy trophy coming back to the club after a very lengthy absence.

Former Blackrock manager Fergal Ryan coped with the spotlight at the helm of one of the top city clubs. Picture: Larry Cummins
Former Blackrock manager Fergal Ryan coped with the spotlight at the helm of one of the top city clubs. Picture: Larry Cummins

Ian Lynam got the Glen back into another final, a fine achievement, and it must be remembered that he was alongside Richie Kelleher when the Blackpool club lifted two titles. He did great work out in the Glen field.

Ronan Curran, in his second stint in charge in the Barrs, oversaw the ongoing development of some very good, young players.

There might be some surprise at Ben O’Connor’s departure from Midleton who will begin the new season as the champions. He had two years in Clonmult Memorial Park, in the first they failed to emerge from the group stage but, alongside the rest of the management, he very successfully turned things around quickly and his CV will be enhanced by his time in the East Cork club.

He won a county title too during his stint with Charleville.

Pat Mulchay has joined the Cork senior hurling set-up with Shane Naughton taking over Newtown.

The role of a team boss has evolved, particularly in clubs where expectations are high. Talk to anyone involved and they will tell you that it is all-consuming and delegation skills are vital.

No one can do it on their own and in all of the leading clubs, now you need a defensive coach, a forwards coach, maybe even a goalkeeping coach. When taking on the responsibility you will need to set out the strategies on how you want your players to perform and be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

For the big clubs in all the counties, the priority will be to win the county title at whatever grade you are at.

It’s probably the first time ever that the big three city clubs have had to replace the outgoing personnel at the same time.

The newcomers, however, will have a platform to build on, the Rockies and the Glen recent county title winners and being there or thereabouts.

POTENTIALS

The new Barrs man will have the 2020 Premier Minor title-winning team a year older and a year wiser which has to be a plus and, of course, the Glen were successful in the Premier 1 minor ranks in 2021.

Whoever replaces Ben O’Connor at Midleton will have players with county medals to work with, having been there and done that and will be among the favourites to retain the title.

And in Newtown, quite a few good, young players are coming through too.

There will be a new man at the helm too in Imokilly after the departure of Ciaran Cronin who was a key member of the three-in-a-row winning team of 2017-2019 and the East Cork divisional unit are always going to have to be reckoned with.

So, at a time when the playing fields are lying silent, the debate as to who will take over the aforementioned positions adds a nice bit of intrigue to the pre-season.

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