Courcey Rovers lay solid foundations beginning at underage section

Courcey Rovers’ captain Dan Lordan challenges Charleville’s Mark Kavanagh during the drawn Cork PIHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last weekend. The sides renew rivalries today. Picture: Larry Cummins

By Ger McCarthy

A sign displaying ‘Vincit Omnia Veritas’ which translates into ‘truth conquers all things’ hangs on a wall at Courcey Rovers GAA club.

Based in the village of Ballinspittle, Rovers head into a Cork PIHC county final replay with Charleville on the back of a quiet revolution both on and off the pitch. The truth is that Courcey Rovers will once again enter the county decider as underdogs and look to conquer opponents tipped to lift the Seamus Long Cup.

Relegated from the senior ranks in 2014 and edging a PIHC relegation play-off two years ago, Rovers’ renaissance began with the club’s underage section. Coaching officer Niall Murphy has witnessed seismic changes to his club’s facilities as well as the parish it is located in.

“Our village’s demographics have changed dramatically over the last decade,” Murphy stated.

“Courcey Rovers is actually quite close to Cork city which has led to a lot of new housing developments. Two years ago, one statistic that stood out when putting together our structures was that 40% of our underage coaching resources weren’t born in the parish.

“The shape of our parish has changed and continues to change. What was once a quiet village is now a very busy place.

“Gradually, we have built up our club’s infrastructure and a new generation of players is benefitting. In 2001, we built a new indoor training facility and gym. We redeveloped our original pitch into a modern sand-based pitch in 2008 and invested in a new ball alley in 2012.”

Regardless of how today’s replay goes, Courcey Rovers is in a positive place.

“Things have been positive for a number of years because of good gelling between the adult, camogie and underage sections,” Murphy commented.

Led by John (O’Donoghue), we held a very successful Lip sync fundraiser where all of our club members and the entire community came together last summer.

Chairman John O’Donoghue is halfway through his six-year tenure and is quick to pay tribute to the club’s grassroots.

“We revolutionised our underage structures about six years ago,” O’Donoghue explained. “Sean O’Callaghan has been a fantastic underage chairman for us as has secretary Stephen Harrington. They brought Niall (Murphy) on board and really honed in on coaching the coaches. Upskilling our coaches was a priority so a lot of credit is due to those guys.”

Since assuming his new role, John O’Donoghue has made raising the profile of what hurling can do for the local community his other main goal.

“There are a huge amount of young people within Courcey Rovers right now whose mothers or fathers would never have represented the club or originally come from the area,” the club chairman outlined.

“People who have come into our club now see what can be achieved if you put in the hard work. Our adult players are great role models for the younger players. That’s really the big plus for our club this year. We weren’t winning a lot of things in recent times but our hurling and camogie successes will stand to us for the next five to 10 years.”

Getting things right at underage level saw Diarmuid Corcoran and Michael O’Sullivan take charge of a Courceys minor hurling team that reached the 2015 county final.

“Diarmuid and Michael are in charge of our current Premier Intermediate squad so there is a direct link between them and a large chunk of the players that have come through minor and U21,” noted Niall Murphy.

“Continuity has been important in that we have also retained our fitness coach Paul Fitzpatrick. For a long time, we would have gone outside the club to bring in our coaches. Now, we are confident enough to take teams on ourselves. That’s vital for bringing through the next generation of players.”

Club secretary Mary Nyhan has been involved with Courcey Rovers for more years than she cares to remember. No one is better placed to appreciate the positive effect reaching this year’s Cork PIHC final will have on the parish’s youngest inhabitants.

“In 2018, Courcey Rovers trains nearly 300 children,” Nyhan stated.

“Seeing our Premier Intermediate team doing so well is brilliant as the children look up to them. That’s important for Courcey Rovers’ future as kids are inspired by the adult’s performances.

“Our Camogie club has also enjoyed plenty of success and lucky to have such dedicated people working behind the scenes. We have inter-county representation most years and our girls look up to those players as much as the boys look up the men.”

The truth is that Courcey Rovers is within an hour of returning to the senior hurling ranks but a solid infrastructure and thriving youth setup means the Carrigdhoun club has already laid the foundations for future conquests. Vincit Omnia Veritas.

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