Keith Ricken: Club form is key to new players making a mark with Cork

Rebels, under new manager Ricken, face Clare in the McGrath Cup opener on Saturday at 2pm
Keith Ricken: Club form is key to new players making a mark with Cork

New Cork senior football manager Keith Ricken watching St. Vincent's against Cill Na Martra in the Bon Secours Cork PIFC at Pairc Ui Rinn . Picture: Eddie O'Hare

NEW Cork football manager Keith Ricken re-affirmed the importance of the club in developing the county team ahead of the season opener against Clare in the McGrath Cup in Miltown Malbay tomorrow at 2pm.

He, along with selectors Mícheál Ó Croinín, James Loughrey, Barry Corkery, Ray Keane, and Des Cullinane, scoured the county during the club championships in search of new talent.

They cast the net far and wide and the fruits of their endeavours are expected to show in the teams to play Clare and Waterford at Páirc Uí Rinn on Tuesday night at 7pm.

“I normally look at guys with their clubs, how they played and how they interacted with their own club people,” Ricken told The Echo.

“Our philosophy is that to earn a spot in our set-up you have to be a good clubman who’s played well for the club. That’s our starting point.

“Is the club proud of them? Are they the mainstay of the team, digging them out when the need is great?

I know it’s an old traditional value, but I would always like to see it maintained, the club putting players forward for Cork.

“To my mind the county season finishes with the last county game and players go back to their clubs. And the whole process is repeated the following year which is the way it has to be.”

Ricken, who takes over from Ronan McCarthy, also praised the decision of the clubs and county board to overhaul club competitions, especially championship.

“The board has made huge changes in how the club season is structured and that’s going to take a while to even out with the different standards. What you will have then is a good standard of football from which you can select.

“That’s a good policy, though it will take time and there’s no point having that if you do something totally different when it comes to the county team. It can’t be an entity in itself.”

Ricken also praised the previous management team.

“I think they did a very good job in identifying talent. Ronan, Sean Hayes, and the lads involved did that by looking closely at club games.

“I would commend those people who put their hands up and worked hard for the county, especially when it was tough and nobody else wanted it. History will be good to these people.”

Tomorrow’s visit to the wilds of west Clare was put back from Thursday night, a decision that was greeted with a mixture of relief and delight on Leeside.

“The first thing about the competition is that you want to see the lads playing games and how they fare in them. We would like to look at as many fellows as we can.

“Thursday was a working day and I sat back a number of times and questioned, is this all worth it with everything that’s going on at the moment?

“Players would have had to take a half-day from work and for the younger lads just starting out in their jobs they just simply couldn’t swan off.

“There is a bit of planning in it, but it’s also a very good opportunity to play a very good team and see what Clare are like and how our fellows adapt.”

DEFEAT

Cork’s last involvement in the pre-season competition, which was shelved due to Covid last season, was in 2020 when they reached the final.

Limerick took the honours that night at the Gaelic Grounds, winning by 0-20 to 0-16 with rookies Damien Gore and Cathail O’Mahony top-scoring for Cork with 0-3 apiece.

This should be Clare’s second outing, but their game against Waterford last Sunday was postponed because of injuries and Covid in the Deise camp.

In the other group, Kerry paraded a strong team for their first game under the stewardship of Jack O’Connor, defeating Limerick by 2-23 to 0-6 on Wednesday night.

Both goals came from the Clifford brothers, Paudie and David, in the first 15 minutes and in all Kerry supplied 11 scorers.

They play Tipperary on Wednesday night with the final pencilled in for tomorrow week.

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