IT'S a case of as you were for the majority of West Cork senior club managers ahead of the 2022 Bon Secours championships.
Castlehaven have confirmed James McCarthy will be back patrolling the sidelines once again this year. The Haven lost out on penalties to 2021 Premier champions St Finbarr’s following another heart-stopping semi-final.
Runners-up Clonakilty enjoyed an equally productive campaign, going all the way to the county decider only to be beaten by recently crowned Munster champions the Barrs. Still to be confirmed, last year’s manager Mike ‘Haulie’ O’Neill is expected to return along with the backroom team, Neil Deasy, Eoin Ryan and Brian Murphy, that guided Clon to the county decider.
Interestingly, both Castlehaven and Clonakilty’s managers will have full access to a selection of important players no longer scheduled for inter-county action. For Clon, Seán White and Mark White have confirmed they will not be part of Keith Ricken’s senior setup.
The Haven’s Michael Hurley and, possibly, Mark Collins will not be involved with Cork this coming year either. Both clubs should benefit from those decisions come championship time.
Newcestown are the exception to the rule for West Cork clubs in the PSFC. That’s because Tim Buckley is taking over from long-time incumbent Tom Wilson.
Buckley will be eager to guide the dual-senior club’s footballers beyond the group stages, a goal Newcestown surprisingly failed to achieve last year.
Declan Hayes assumes control of Carbery Rangers for a second year. The Rosscarbery club lost three tight group matches to Éire Óg, Newcestown and Castlehaven and will be looking for substantial improvements over the next 12 months.
“It is my second year at it but the fact that we have had a full pre-season together is absolutely huge as it is something we didn’t get to experience last year,” Hayes said.
“Players training on their own was very tough so having a pre-season is vital for us as we are trying to embed a few younger players for 2022. Obviously, we are hoping that will be of benefit to the team.
“As for the county championship draws, no matter what your seeding, no one is going to get an easy draw. It is going to be tough for everybody because that is the way the premier senior championship is now.
“Carbery Rangers are guaranteed a tough draw no matter what. The way the championship is, with 12 teams now, you are certain of playing three tough games no matter who you face. That means you have to be on your game if you want to get to the knockout stages.”
In this year’s Senior A grade, Ilen Rovers’ relegation from the top tier sees Diarmuid Duggan join up with 2021 manager Jason Whooley in a reorganised backroom team. Rovers will be one of the SAFC’s top seeds this time around and anxious to regroup after a couple of difficult years.
Bandon will look to manager Colm Aherne once again in 2022. The Lilywhites drew with Skibbereen but lost to Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaidh and Bandon before exiting the senior A championship.
Dohenys’ run to the last four of the SAFC was richly deserved under the tutelage of Delcan O’Dwyer. The rookie manager guided the Dunmanway club to impressive victories over O’Donovan Rossa, Bandon and Knocknagree before St. Michael’s edged a tight semi-final. O’Dwyer’s management team will be made up of Robbie Aherne, Noel O’Donovan, Paul Deane, Daniel O’Donovan and Finn Collins.
Gene O’Donovan is the new man at the helm for O’Donovan Rossa. Skibb is another West Cork club hoping to eradicate the memory of a disappointing SAFC campaign and failing to emerge from their group.
“You are going to see a different approach from O’Donovan Rossa this year,” O’Donovan admitted.
“There is so much talent inside our dressing room. I know these guys because I would have seen them with Daniel Cronin and myself's involvement with the Cork and West Cork regional underage teams.
"To quote an old lady that used travel on a bus with me long ago, she used to say we should forget the past, look to the future but live in the now. That is how we are going to approach things this coming year.”