It’s a busy weekend for West Cork football managers named Tim Buckley.
On Sunday evening (5pm), the Carbery divisional side compete in the quarter-finals of the Bons Secours Hospital Cork Premier SFC for the first time since 2013 as they take on Ballincollig.
They are managed by Dunmanway native Tim Buckley, while his Newcestown namesake will look to help his native club retain premier status when they clash with Éire Óg in the relegation play-off on Saturday afternoon.
Carbery have played more games than any of the other six sides still left in the competition. They made their bow back in June, when they beat Imokilly by 2-18 to 1-10 in the preliminary divisional section, and further victories followed against Beara and Avondhu to earn them a spot in the semi-finals of the divisions/colleges competition in August.
Drawn against UCC, they recorded an impressive 2-18 to 2-13 win in Macroom to advance to the final against Duhallow, who were seeking a place in the quarter-finals for the eighth consecutive year. A tight affair in Páirc Uí Rinn almost required extra time but James O’Regan’s late free gave Carbery a 0-16 to 0-15 win and the Tadhg Crowley Cup, named in honour of the Clonakilty legend.
For manager Tim Buckley, the scheduling of the competition is something that has suited his team’s progress.
“We’ve been lucky enough, really,” he says.
“The way the split-season is set up, there’s a window there for the divisions in June and I’d be a big supporter of that timeframe.
“We’re out now and we’re playing against club teams, lads who’ve played together since they were 12.
“You’re up against different methods of play, different systems and different ambitions. With divisions and colleges, it’s about an individual team coming together the likes of Nemo or Castlehaven or Ballincollig are a collective.
“That’s the challenge that we have to face.”
It’s a challenge intensified by the fact that Ballincollig could have exited the competition at the group stage after their opening two games resulted in a loss to Mallow and then a draw with Douglas, but a final-day win over Valley Rovers secured second place in their group. That will give them real confidence.
“That’s absolutely right,” Buckley says.
“You must also realise, though, that we’re in bonus territory after coming through against Duhallow and UCC.
“Both teams will be looking at this tie with a realistic chance of making the semi-finals.”
For Newcestown and their manager Tim Buckley, the group stages were frustrating as they finished fourth behind Nemo Rangers, Castlehaven and Clonakilty. A draw with last year’s beaten finalists Clon in the second match might have been enough to avoid the relegation play-off in other years but not this time.
They now face Éire Óg in Brinny today (4pm).
“The Clon game, we did enough to win it but I suppose we were lucky to draw it,” says Buckley.
“We weren’t good enough against the other two teams in the group and we are where we are.”
Unfortunately for Newcestown, a squad that has been trying to deal with the dual demands of hurling and football has been stretched through injury, with Colm O’Donovan and Buckley’s son David already out while Séamus O’Sullivan and Colm Dinneen were forced off against Castlehaven.
“Séamus dislocated his elbow and Colm broke an ankle against Castlehaven, so we’re down two more,” Buckley says.
“It doesn’t seem like we’ll have anyone back from the injury list.
“We’ve a very young team and we probably can’t take the knocks when we’re playing the likes of the Haven, who are fully conditioned.
“That takes time, it’s what you need to develop a team.”
It’s the second year in a row for Newcestown to face Éire Óg, with the Ovens side having triumphed in 2021.
“Last year, we played them in the group stages, a winner-take-all game above in Kilmurry and they finished up winners,” Buckley says.
“They were in the relegation in the Premier Intermediate Hurling too and that’s not easy, but they won that. It’ll all depend on what happens on the day.”