James McCarthy feels Páirc Uí Chaoimh experience will stand to Castlehaven

With a mix of youth and experience, Haven will need to be at their best to beat the Barrs on Sunday
James McCarthy feels Páirc Uí Chaoimh experience will stand to Castlehaven

Michael Hurley, Castlehaven, surrounded by Carbery Rangers players Brian Shanahan, Alan Jennings, James O'Riordan and Thomas O'Rourke. Picture: Dan Linehan

CASTLEHAVEN face St Finbarr’s in the Bon Secours Cork PSFC semi-finals for a third consecutive year and in search of a first county title since 2013.

Sporting history is littered with famous trilogies. In boxing, Muhammed Ali versus Joe Frazier. In basketball, legendary figures Larry Bird (Boston Celtics) versus Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson (LA Lakers) in the NBA finals. In Tennis, Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal on Wimbledon’s centre court. The list goes on.

Recently, Cork GAA’s senior club scene has experienced the first two stanzas of its own trilogy.

Castlehaven bested St Finbarr’s in the 2020 PSFC semi-finals 4-3 on penalties following a thrilling 1-13 to 1-13 draw after extra-time.

Twelve months later, the two clubs met at the same juncture in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Amazingly, there was another penalty shootout. The Barrs came out on top 5-4 before going on to win the county.

Sinead O'Keeffe, commercial director Cork GAA, and Harry Canning, CEO Bon Secours Cork, with, Eoin Comyns, St Finbarr's, Rory Maguire, Castlehaven, Luke Fahy, Ballinciollig and Micheal Aoda Martin, Nemo Rangers. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Sinead O'Keeffe, commercial director Cork GAA, and Harry Canning, CEO Bon Secours Cork, with, Eoin Comyns, St Finbarr's, Rory Maguire, Castlehaven, Luke Fahy, Ballinciollig and Micheal Aoda Martin, Nemo Rangers. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Castlehaven manager James McCarthy patrolled the sideline for both of those epics. The experienced manager will lead the Carbery club out for a third time against their great rivals at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.

“We are delighted to get back to another county semi-final because we are after a productive three years without ever getting over the line,” James McCarthy said.

“These are the not same teams that first played one another three years ago. There have been plenty of changes. Young lads have come through on both senior panels.

“Look, it might not go down to the wire like the previous two semi-finals but I don’t think either team will walk away with it either. These two teams know one another inside out. Nothing the Barrs will do or we will do will be much of a surprise come Sunday.” 

The Haven lost Damien Cahalane to a red card in their quarter-final victory over Mallow but he was later cleared to take part.

James McCarthy can als call upon two equally influential and experienced campaigners in Mark Collins and Michael Hurley. Both individuals remain integral to their club’s chances of success.

“Having Mark and Michael on board has taken the pressure off fielding so many of our younger players this year,” McCarthy admitted.

“Mark and Michael’s presence, the way they talk and guide the younger fellas made it that bit easier to blood players during the county league. We took the league seriously this year and got a lot out it.

“Mark is able to deliver quality ball into the forwards while Michael is there to make his runs, create space and finish.

The reality for Castlehaven is that we now have four or five players starting regularly that weren’t in the first 15 a couple of years ago. That’s a third of the team. 

"There are three or four more very close to becoming the backbone of Castlehaven next year and beyond.” 

This year, group wins over fellow West Cork rivals Clonakilty and Newcestown were sandwiched either side of a 3-13 to 1-16 loss at the hands of Nemo Rangers.

Luke Connolly decided a memorable encounter in Ahamilla but, even in defeat, Castlehaven showed why they are amongst this year’s Cork PSFC title challengers alongside Nemo, the Barrs and Ballincollig.

Now comes James McCarthy’s biggest challenge. A St Finbarr’s team Castlehaven know all too well and who scorched an impressive trail to the penultimate round.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh is a fitting setting for act three of one of Cork GAA’s most exciting and talked about rivalries in recent times.

“It is a big thing going to Páirc Uí Chaoimh but we are comfortable with our surroundings up there at this stage,” the Castlehaven manager concluded.

“Yes, there are rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts, to be adhered to when playing there. The more times you play at Páirc Uí Chaoimh the more you get used to it. Castlehaven’s management and players are fortunate in that regard as we have been there so often in the last few years.

“Hopefully, that leads to a better game and hopefully, the younger players are more used to it and can relax that bit more as well.

“This is why we coach, for big days like these. As a management team, we cannot wait for the game. I am sure it will be the same for the Barrs. You need that bit of luck on the day. I hope it does not come down to penalties as that is very unfair. If it does come penalties, then so be it."

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Echo WISA

Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more