Newcestown's dedicated servants juggling the heaviest dual demands

Newcestown's dedicated servants juggling the heaviest dual demands
Carthach Keane, Newcestown Pic; Larry Cummins. 

Plentiful and all as dual establishments are within Cork GAA, you would be hard-pressed to find a club where the crossover of players between their hurling and football starting teams is as strong as it is in Newcestown.

Certainly, there isn’t a dual club operating as high as Newcestown who have as many players taking to the field for both codes.

Bishopstown, St Finbarr’s, and Douglas are the three clubs in Cork who hold premier senior status in both codes, but having looked at the amount of dual players each has used in recent weeks, their respective numbers are a fair bit below that of Newcestown.

Studying the teams Newcestown put out for their premier senior football and senior A hurling championship openers, 12 players started both games. Two further players — Edmund Kenneally and Séamus O’Sullivan — were used off the bench in the football win over Ilen and the second round hurling tie against Kanturk, bringing to 14 the total number of Newcestown players who have played championship fare in either code over the past three weeks.

So when Newcestown football manager Tom Wilson throws out 15 as the likely number of players from the club who've played football and hurling championship this summer, you know he isn’t far off at all.

“They’re a very good group of guys. They wouldn't be playing at a high level in both codes if they weren't being sensible, if they weren't minding themselves when they needed to. I have to commend our players for their dedication to both codes. When the shoulder is needed to be put to the wheel, they are there to do it,” said Wilson ahead of tomorrow's football clash against Castlehaven.

No more than any other dual club, Newcestown are well used to juggling the two codes when the Cork county championship typically throws-in in April and then recommences at the end of summer. But 2020, as we all know, is different, and that extends to the reworked county championship program.

What it means is that heading into tomorrow's game, Newcestown have had only one proper football session since they overcame Ilen Rovers 21 days ago on July 25.

“Going four weeks in a row is a heavier schedule than what we are used to. We do like to have a two-week break when we are changing code. We don't mind playing two hurling matches two weekends in a row, but it is nice to have two weeks then to prepare for football because the reality is they have been exclusively with the hurlers since the Ilen win.

"Thursday just gone was our first proper training session since the Ilen win. We had a recovery session on Monday and okay, we might have knocked another night out of them this week, but there is no point flogging a busy horse.

“We know a two-week break when switching codes is not possible this year because of the tight scheduling, but it does make life that little bit more difficult for a dual club like ourselves."

“I did say to the Ilen guys after we played them that they were getting us at our best. Because of the scheduling, we had from the finish of lockdown until we played them to prepare for that game. We were as prepared as we could be.

“That is not going to be the case anymore because we are going to be playing football a week after hurling both this weekend and again in three weeks' time when we face Carbery Rangers. There are the few little knocks and bruises which we didn't have before the first game that you have to contend with when you are playing week in week out.” 

Their 16-point thumping of Ilen Rovers has Newcestown top of Group B and means the pressure is ever so slightly off this weekend, for even if they do come off second best at Skibbereen, they’ll still be very much in the running for a knockout berth heading into the final round-robin fixture against Carbery Rangers.

“Having won the first game, you know that if you can get one more win out of the next two, you have a great chance of going through. We will be going in all guns blazing to try and get that win this weekend.

“Reaching the semi-final last year, the players have the knowledge that the ability is there. And if they put in the work again, you would be hoping to get as far or further. That's always the aim — to keep improving.” 

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