Referee Willie Wallis bids to revive Aghada's hurling fortunes

Impressive displays at U14 and U15 level in Rebel Óg competitions bodes well for the medium term in the club
Referee Willie Wallis bids to revive Aghada's hurling fortunes

Cian Fleming, Aghada, is chased by Brian Collins, Courcey Rovers. Picture: Larry Cummins

THE Aghada hurlers will begin the new season in a new championship grade and with a new manager.

Former Midleton player and well-known referee Willie Wallis is the new face at the helm, bidding to revive the fortunes of the Rostellan club. Things did not fall into place at Premier Intermediate level last season for the team and they were eventually relegated after defeat to Watergrasshill.

While the footballers reached the last four of the Premier Intermediate Football Championship, the hurlers were unable to find their rhythm losing their group games to Kilworth, Ballinhassig and Ballincollig.

 Cian O'Driscoll, Ballincollig, under pressure from Ciaran O'Shea, Aghada goalkeeper, last season. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Cian O'Driscoll, Ballincollig, under pressure from Ciaran O'Shea, Aghada goalkeeper, last season. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

So 2022, offers a new challenge, five years on from winning the Intermediate Championship, the men in green and white will be hoping to begin their steps back up the ladder.

Willie Wallis, along with Donal Godfrey and PJ Hurley, has been entrusted in guiding their fortunes. The new manager has been involved in the club for a number of years and is looking forward to the new challenge ahead.

“I’ve coached teams at a number of juvenile ages including the U14 Premier 2 team that won the county and I was in charge of the junior B team last season that reached the divisional final, as well as being involved with the camogie teams here. It’s a new challenge but I suppose I was always there to be involved with the club at adult level, especially with the team’s coming through from juvenile. It has been a natural progression.”

The victorious Aghada team celebrate after winning the 2020 Rebel Óg U14 Premier 2 title. Picture: John Hennessy
The victorious Aghada team celebrate after winning the 2020 Rebel Óg U14 Premier 2 title. Picture: John Hennessy

Like all previous Aghada managers, the new boss will face the issue of two teams competing at county level.

“We have got to look after players from both codes. The footballers were unlucky last year and although the hurling did not go well, this group of players are certainly capable of succeeding.

“When you look at clubs like Kanturk balancing both codes, there is no reason why Agahda can’t compete at the same level. There are players coming through, some of them are a year or two away, but there are good minors joining the panel this year to add to those from last year, so there’s potential.

“The intermediate panel is very young, the average age is about 23 or 24. I feel it’s just a question of getting their style of play right more so than anything else.”

With the county leagues due to start next month, Agahda will face a schedule of 14 games across both codes over the next few months.

“It’s a serious commitment that has to be managed correctly, but it’s just a case of getting the balance right and working together alongside the footballers.

“It’s a challenge that if we can do the basics right, the players will get stronger for it. Again you can look at other dual clubs and see how one game has benefited in their respective grades. Teams can drive on and get fitter from that double involvement.

“This is a super club, with a great community around it, whose strengths are phenomenal to rally behind any cause. Getting the players to do that on the pitch is the next challenge - but they have already shown great commitment with their pre-season training.”

As for Willie Wallis the referee, the show will very much go on.

“Yes, there may be a few challenges at weekends defending at what grade I’m designated. It will be no different from last year when I coached two teams and still refereed a few matches each week. Refereeing is invaluable for coaching, you see different things happening on the pitch which can be translated back to coaching.

A huge point which I see is that a lot of coaches don’t know the rules of the game. Everybody who is coaching should aspire to learn the rules.

“In terms of refereeing, what most people don’t grasp when they are on the sideline or on the bank watching, is that what they are seeing is not what the referee sees. As a referee, you can only blow for what you see.

“It’s a great lesson seeing the game through the eyes of a referee.”

Despite relegation last season, there is no doubt that Agahda will be one of the teams most clubs will want to avoid in the championship this season.

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