HAVING reached the heights with victory in the Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier IHC, Inniscarra’s attention now turns to Munster fare as they take on Tipperary champions Roscrea in FBD Semple Stadium tomorrow (1.15pm).
Seán O’Donoghue, newly appointed as Cork captain, has been one of the key men in the mid-Cork side’s journey and he is keen to help keep it going.
“I suppose, in our minds, the county was the biggest prize, really,” he says.
“Obviously, Munster and the All-Ireland are bigger but at the start of the year was to win the county.
“Once we won that, we enjoyed it and we celebrated for a couple of days. We had the week off, just to be able to relax as well, because we had a four-week break leading into this and some fellas went away for a few days, too.
“But it’s back to business now, especially this week.”
Inniscarra’s manager is Paul McCarthy, new this year after a stint in charge of the Seandún divisional side. O’Donoghue feels that having a new backroom team come in meant a fresh start.
“We had great management teams in the past as well,” he says, “but sometimes a change can be needed to shake things up.
“The beauty about new management is that, whether they were going to be good or bad, everyone was on a clean slate.
“They’re not looking at players as being suitable for a certain position because they played there last year – they might look at a wing-back and say, ‘This fella could do a job in the forwards.’
“I missed a lot of the start of the year as I was involved with Cork,” he says, “but I was still in the group chat and I could see the seriousness of it all.
“When the groups came out, we fancied ourselves in that group, though I wouldn’t say that’s too different to any other year, either – whatever the group is, you tend to say, ‘Oh, we’ve a right chance at this one.’
“After playing a few of the teams in the league as well, we were confident. There was never any doubt that we had the players to do it and the management to do it, it was just a case of upping our work-rate, really, and everybody buying in.
As a Cork star, O’Donoghue is naturally a go-to player for Inniscarra, though, rather than looking to do it all, he can be unselfish to a fault – at a training session before the county semi-final against Ballinhassig, team-mate Podge Holland implored him to shoot more often.
“Obviously, there’s a small bit more pressure on me,” he says, “but we’ve Owen McCarthy, who’s played Cork underage, Colm Casey has an All-Ireland intermediate medal. You’ve David O’Keeffe and Jack ‘Sull’ O’Sullivan, who have been excellent club players for a while, and Liam Ryan, who has probably been our best player.
“If things don’t go my way, there’s no blame on me. At the end of the day, it’s a team effort and if I’m having an off-day, there’ll be someone else to pick up the slack and vice-versa.”
The team ethic was never shown more appropriately than with sub Kieran Rice scoring a late goal to put them in the lead in the drawn county final against Castlemartyr and then Colm Casey’s strike at the death in the replay.
“The beauty of it is that there are so many goal-getters there, really,” O’Donoghue says.
“There are four or five fellas you could throw into the full-forward line towards the end and tell them to try to win the ball.
“We’re probably not putting teams away early when we should be and that’s the reason we’re under more pressure coming towards the end.
“We’ve have a bit of luck but my thing is that you make your own luck. We’ve been working on things and training hard.
They will look to keep things going this weekend, with O’Donoghue feeling optimistic.
“Roscreaa are big and strong down the middle,” he says.
“I’d say they’ll be similar to Castlemartyr. We fancy our chances – I know they came down from Senior because they re-graded Senior B as Premier Intermediate in Tipp, but we’d be giving ourselves a chance against any senior A team in Cork now, too.
“There’s nothing to be fearful of.”