New Blackrock manager Jamie Harrington ready to step up

"It’s much the same thing in terms of time – if you’re there every night for training anyway, you might as well be a manager as a selector."
New Blackrock manager Jamie Harrington ready to step up

New Blackrock senior hurling manager Jamie Harrington. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

While it’s may not be a role that he was expecting to fill, new Blackrock manager Jamie Harrington is happy to serve his club.

The 2020 Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC winners reached the final last year, losing to St Finbarr’s, as well as winning the RedFM Hurling League but the man who led them there, Clare native Louis Mulqueen, departed after a single season in charge.

Harrington, a selector last year, has stepped up to the top job, one he previously held in 2009.

“It’s a big decision, just from a time point of view,” he says.

“With a young family and a wife who runs her own business [Sinéad Murphy of Performance Physiotherapy Cork], there’s not that much time.

“I was willing to be a selector this year, I didn’t expect to have to do this but it’s much the same thing in terms of time – if you’re there every night for training anyway, you might as well be a manager as a selector. It’s much of a muchness.

“I was happy to be involved in some capacity and it just panned out that this was the role I fell into this year. It’s not really my ideal role but we’ll give it a go and see how we get on.”

Harrington will be assisted by selectors John Cormack and Colin O’Leary, while Aghada’s Trevor O’Keeffe, who was part of the Cork minor set-up last year, is on board as a coach along with Shane Stapleton from Tipperary. Previously a Tipp senior football selector, he will combine his Blackrock role with one with the Premier County’s U20 hurlers.

Given that the Rockies did well last year, evolution rather than revolution is the approach.

“Outside of the pitch, we have several markers that we want to get better at,” he says.

“As regards playing, there are three or four areas that we want to improve on immediately. We did have moderate success last year – not what we wanted, but we did get very close – and if we can tighten up on three, four, five things, we’ll be very close again.

“That’s what we’re hoping, anyway – it’s not a case of having to reinvent the wheel.

“Last year, Louis would have done an awful lot himself in terms of psych work and fitness work, nutritional information and that kind of thing.

“We’re just trying to formalise that a bit more and have a bit more input into it. We’re going to do all that first and then we’ve brought in a couple of outside coaches to give a hand so there’s a bit to be organised.

“At the moment, it feels like there’s a bit of seasonal fatigue but I’m sure that that’ll be lessened as the year moves along!”

Good performances last year saw goalkeeper Gavin Connolly and defenders Cathal Cormack and John Cashman called on to the Cork panel, with Cormack starting at wing-back in Sunday’s Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League final win over Tipperary.

If those players are involved with Cork during the Allianz Hurling League, Blackrock will have to manage without them for periods but a positive side-effect of that is that it will afford chances to players during the county league.

“The only possible negative is that our second team plays in Division 3, so they’ll be the ones who take the brunt of that,” Harrington says.

“We don’t really know what’s going to happen here – if Gavin will be available for matchdays, it depends on how Cathal goes and John Cashman has been in and out a small bit as well.

“We’re not certain on how it’s going to go but, if they’re training with Cork, it’s good for them and it’s good for us.

“Being without five or six players every week isn’t going to be the end of the world. There are players there who should be able to step up and, if they’re not, well then we’re going to be in trouble anyway.”

And, while marquee forward Alan Connolly is recovering from a shoulder injury that will keep him out of the national league, Blackrock rarely have him in the spring anway.

“Alan is the one player that we’re used to being without for the league,” Harrington says.

“He didn’t play any league games last year, I think, so that’s not a huge deal. You’re playing in the division you’re in for the league and most teams are short a few players.

“It’s not a big issue but there are some questions – who’s the free-taker when Alan’s not there, who’s the full-forward – and we hope to have them answered by him not being there.”

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