Last year represented Carbery’s first participation in the Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC since 2019.
Unable to field during the two Covid-hit seasons that followed, the South-West divisional side showed some encouraging signs on their return to action and new manager Joe Ryan is keen to build on that as he takes over for the coming campaign.
The Ballinascarthy man was a Carbery selector last year, as well as managing his home club as they won the Carbery junior A title. With Charlie Vaughan, Carbery manager since 2017, having stepped aside, Ryan has stepped up to the main job, combining that with the Bal posting. He is joined by selector Kevin McCarthy (Barryroe) and Fergul Keohane (Kilbrittain).
Last year, Carbery competed well in their opening Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC Divisions/Colleges stage 1 match against Avondhu, falling to a 2-23 to 3-15 defeat after the North Cork side – who would go on to advance to the second stage of the competition – scored a late clinching goal.
In their back-door match, Carbery met Duhallow and were unfortunate – despite having to make seven changes from the Avondhu game, they wiped out a six-point deficit in the closing stages and were only denied extra time but a winner at the death. Their third and final outing was a 2-16 to 0-10 defeat to a Muskerry team that pushed on well in the second half.
Overall, Ryan was encouraged by what he saw and so, when the managerial vacancy arose, he was willing to step up “Charlie Vaughan and John Paul O’Callaghan decided to take a step back this year,” he says.
“Along with Kevin McCarthy, they’ve carried the can for the last few years. I got involved last year, just to help out really, and I was really pleasantly surprised with the games against Avondhu and Duhallow.
“First of all, how strong the team was that we put out against Avondhu and then how they played in both games.
“I was happy enough to stay involved – I didn’t foresee myself becoming manager, to be honest – but I wanted it to continue. I felt that the lads deserved it.
“I’m of the opinion that, if there’s a competition we can enter, we should be entering it. If this is available to Carbery, they should be represented.
“Kevin McCarthy is staying on and Fergul Keohane is getting involved and he’d have worked with a lot of these lads at underage. I’m delighted to have the two lads involved, because they’d have much more experience than I would.”
Carbery will look to ramp up preparations as the June date for the divisions and colleges section approaches. As a club manager, Ryan – son of Jerry, who has managed Carbery hurling and camogie sides as well as serving as a Cork selector under Denis Walsh – knows how busy players are, especially when there are so many involved who play both codes for their clubs. He will apply a pragmatic approach.
“It’s just common sense, really,” he says.
"They’re getting that already, so all we want to do is give them a few skill sessions – at best, maybe a game.
“Even at that, it’s just about getting them together and trying to get the best possible players out.”
Ultimately, what will determine how successful a year it is for the division will be the strength of the squad available. Last year, Carbery fielded players from premier intermediate side Bandon, as well as premier junior trio Kilbrittain, Argideen Rangers and Barryroe along with a host of junior A clubs and something similar, will provide a strong base.
They face Avondhu in their opening game in Ovens on June 6 and Ryan wants as strong a squad as possible.
“I think, based off last year, we probably gave Avondhu their closest run and they made it out of the first divisional stage,” Ryan says.
“I’d be confident enough that, if we got a strong team out – as strong as, if not stronger than, last year – we’d have a good chance of getting a bit of momentum.
“If we were able to get a win, that’d be great – we’re not really in a position to look past that, really!”