Michael Meaney couldn’t break the link

Michael Meaney first took over what was then the Carrigaline IFC side in 2007.

Michael Meaney couldn’t break the link

That first year, the club reached the final, losing to Grenagh, but they came back two years later, defeating Cill na Martra in the decider to rise to the premier intermediate grade.

Having stepped down at the end of 2010, Meaney “intended to take a break”, as he puts it himself, but got roped in with the club’s U21s and almost led them to a county title, losing to O’Donovan Rossa after a replay in the final.

Coming back to the premier intermediate job at the start of 2014 meant that he had the benefit of experience of working with those U21s, though some – like David Drake, Cian Barry and Seán Mellett – had been part of the 2009 team when only just out of minor.

The staying power of some of the more experienced panel members was just as impressive, in his view. That proverbial mix of youth and experience has stood Carrig in good stead in their run to tomorrow’s final against St Michael’s in Páirc Uí Rinn (3pm).

“When I came in first in 2007, you had Nicholas and Peter Murphy, Killian Forbes, Barry O’Keeffe and they’re all still there eight years later,” Meaney says.

“That’s testament to the way they look after themselves. They have vast experience and when you have fellas like that in your ranks it can only help the others.”

Those at the other end of the experience spectrum bring success like the 2014 Rebel Óg Premier 1 MFC title, but Meaney acknowledges that the management of expectations is important.

“There’s no doubt that people do expect success,” he says.

“Last year, the club won the minor county for the first time and it’s almost like overnight that more is expected.

“Young players need to be given time to develop and get used to the set-up.

“You have to let them find their own feet.”

They have done that this year, with a replay win over Éire Óg securing the final spot.

With the club having had to win relegation play-offs in 2011 and ’13, Meaney is glad to have some consistency.

“When we came in at the start of 2014, that was one of the things we wanted,” he says.

“We won the Tom Credon Cup and got out of Division 4 of the league, we reached the semi-finals of the championship against Valley Rovers too.

Guiding the St Michael’s fortunes is Macroom native Noel Creedon. Having been involved with various underage teams, he took over at adult level this year and knew that, like Carrigaline, the potential was there.

“Even looking at it objectively, you knew that there were a lot of raw materials to work with,” he said.

“There had been underage success coming up through the pipeline and, obviously, the 2012 final against St Vincent’s showed that it was within their capability to make a tilt at it.

“I think any manager of a team in a county final would say that, whatever about anything else, luck always plays a role and we’ve managed to get that this year.”

Of all of the games this year, Creedon pinpoints the fourth-round win over Mallow as being crucial for Michael’s.

“Our second game then was against Mallow and winning that gave us real belief. Malllow are a side that, genuinely and rightly, would feel that they were in with a chance at the start of the year and so beating them confirmed to us that we could contend as well.”

Dual considerations, with so many players hurling with Blackrock, have been dealt with in an effective fashion.

“We’d have 10 or 12 playing hurling,” Creedon says, “that’d be about three or four with the seniors, the same playing junior and then five or so with the U21s.

“It’s not as clear-cut as if they were all on the one team. All of the various people involved do try to co-operate but, to be fair to Blackrock and ourselves, we’re all trying to win too so you want to see as much of your players as you can.

“It’s not something I ever had to deal with in Macroom – thankfully! – but I’m lucky that the other lads in the management team are friendly with their Blackrock counterparts so it has worked well.”

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