Kelly: We need to be more con­sis­tent

Irish Examiner - County - - Sport - John Tar­rant

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.

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