Kelly: We need to be more consistent
AT the end of 2015, the Carbery Rangers club made a decision to look outside for a manager of their senior football team.
A similar move had been tried a couple of years earlier when an outside manager was appointed — the experiment lasted no more than a month. The club though, felt they needed something different, new, something fresh.
They had been getting close to a first county senior title but still hadn’t got over the line, having lost four semi-finals and one final over the previous six years.
There were dissenting voices but for the particular group of players at their disposal, the club felt they needed an outsider, someone who would command respect, a guy who didn’t have any baggage. A players’ sub-committee was established. A list of potential candidates was drawn up and handed to the top table.
One of the names on the Ronan McCarthy.
The call was made.
A Carbery delegation travelled up to meet McCarthy before Christmas at the Viaduct Inn on the old Bandon road. They told him that they already had a trainer and three selectors in place.
McCarthy said he hadn’t planned on taking any team in 2016 but that he would think about it. McCarthy rang back a few hours later. Carbery had their man.
By October, the club had secured their first senior county title. The outsider had got the job done. Nobody in the club doubted McCarthy’s impact.
He has now been handed the biggest challenge of his career but is fully equipped for it.
Having played with Cork during some good, and some very dark days, McCarthy fully understands Cork football, especially the mentality.
What’s more, McCarthy knows most of these players after having worked with so many of them, firstly with Conor Counihan as a selector in 2013, before occupying the same role during the two years of Brian Cuthbert’s management.
His involvement at club level, and having watched so many players over the last two years, gives him a further scouting advantage and knowledge that should serve McCarthy well now as he takes over as Cork manager.
In reality, this was an appointment that was expected two years ago, when Peadar Healy was given the job ahead of McCarthy.
There were suggestions McCarthy more or less had the job, and that it fell through over issues around his backroom team, but McCarthy will feel in a much stronger position now to take it on, especially after having finally led Carbery out of the wilderness. McCarthy has done his time.
He is highly respected within the county but his appointment is also a list was progressive move by the county board on a couple of fronts; it is the first time that a former player heavily connected to the player strikes of the last decade has been given a manager’s job.
When the first Cork strike erupted in 2002, the hurlers ignited the blaze but the footballers rowed in behind.
They didn’t have anything like the profile as the hurlers but McCarthy was one of the leading figures at the top table when the football delegation was looking for better conditions.
McCarthy’s name didn’t carry the same negative status that the county board, or many supporters, attached to some of the key figures — hurlers and footballers — who defined those strikes throughout the decade. Yet any involvement, or fractious interaction with the board, was never seen as a positive move for future top job prospects.
Parsing though some of McCarthy’s comments from that time in 2002, nobody wanted the culture in Cork to change more than him.
He wasn’t around when the next wave of strikes ignited in the latter half of the decade but he surely would have been a stringent advocate for a better way if he was still playing.
It was always clear from McCarthy’s comments that he wanted Cork to have, and to set, the highest standards.
That has never been more important now, especially in re-establishing a culture and standard that has slipped around the Cork senior team. The previous management team tried extremely hard but that standard and culture had faltered.
The recent performance against Mayo highlighted the squad’s potential but results and performances over the previous two seasons reflected a set-up that, however hard everyone tried, just wasn’t working.
There was some surprise when McCarthy was named as Cork coach rather than manager, but the rugbystyle management model — which Cork plan to use going forward — is another progressive move. It is expected that McCarthy will function in a head coach role at training sessions rather than — as has happened before in Cork and other counties — being appointed as a manager and then appointing somebody else as coach.
McCarthy will have his own clear vision of how he wants his team to play, of what style he hopes to impart, rather than instructing a coach how he wants the team to play.
McCarthy will be fully capable of directly implementing, and coaching, that style himself on the training field.
McCarthy has built up an impressive coaching and management CV now. This will be his biggest test yet but he has more than earned the right to be handed the reins to a job he has long craved. FOOTBALL means a lot to the folk of Ballydesmond and a roller coaster journey continues in the Cork County IFC and with four games played, they find themselves only in round four.
With a number of townlands operating inside the Kerry border, some supporters opted to travel to Croke Park on Saturday rather than witness Ballydesmond operate with a passion and style for at least 30 minutes, good enough to better Glenville in a replay.
Current selector Norita Kelly is no stranger to family ties across the County Bounds, but whatever about her roots, the eight-time AllIreland Ladies winner with Cork is part of the intermediate football management team instilling confidence into her charges.
Having handed Glenville a reprieve two weeks earlier, Ballydesmond were forced to dig deep to stage a tremendous second-half revival in the replay with a spirited resurgence to canter clear of their east Cork opponents.
“It was a tough battle, but thankfully we improved as the game aged,” Kelly said.
“There were chances for Ballydesmond to be much closer at half-time, eight wides recorded, but we brought our shooting boots to the table in the second half.”
Indeed, goals proved the difference between the sides as a hungrier and more purposeful Ballydesmond charted a safe passage thanks to all important green flag strikes from Shane Kelly and Cork minor panellist Dara Moynihan.
“We operated with a lot more urgency and lifted our game considerably. Donncha O’Connor delivered excellent points and the goals saw us outscore Glenville 2-7 to 0-2 in the second half.
“On the field, we worked and got the key scores, Dara enjoyed the space and put away a great goal,” she added.
Its been an eventful campaign for Ballydesmond, performing well below par in a hefty loss to St Finbarrs first time out. Fortunes improved when overcoming Youghal where Ballydesmond delivered a workmanlike performance before allowing Glenville finish strongly in the drawn tussle. Kelly is enjoying the task of assisting team coach Denys O’Brien from Newmarket and Niall Collins as part of the management.
“It’s a different aspect to be on the sideline, todate its working well, recovering well from the first-round lapse, hopefully, we can continue our rate of progress in round four against Mitchelstown or Millstreet. We will work on our game, we probally need to be more consistent if we’re to make further inroads.”
Ronan McCarthy will feel in a much stronger position now to take on the Cork job, especially after having finally led Carbery Rangers out of the wilderness and on to senior success.
Then Cork manager Brian Cuthbert with selectors Ciaran O’Sullivan, Ronan McCarthy, and Don Davis against Kildare in the All-Ireland qualifiers in July 2015.