Off the field as well as on it, Castlehaven are committed to constant improvement.
An extension to the clubhouse is under construction before work on a stand begins. With so many club members able to offer their expertise, there is no need to engage an outside contractor.
Senior manager Jim Nolan, preparing his side for Sunday’s county final with Nemo Rangers in Páirc Uí Rinn (5pm), believes the community ethos is what keeps the club punching above its weight.
“We’re out there training during the summer and you have all of these volunteers in here working, plastering and all that stuff,” he says.
“I’ve been around since the mid-70s and it has always been the same thing here, it keeps on going. When I wasn’t involved with the club for about seven or eight years due to Cork commitments, I used to come down and sit in the dugout and see all my former playing colleagues out on the field training underage teams. All of the old players put it back in.”
In 1994, Nolan was the manager when the Haven beat neighbours O’Donovan Rossa to win their second title. Another followed in 2003 before the two-in-a-row of 2012 and ’13. He acknowledges the difference in set-up compared to his last tenure, but stresses the importance of having the right people in place.
“It is a bigger operation, definitely,” he says. “In the old days, I had Christy Collins with me and Michael Maguire. I used to do all the training and everything, but now there are four of us involved and I’ve had to go outside that again. I have James McCarthy, a very good coach but we’ve had others in too. The backroom team is bigger, everything is bigger, it has just gone that way.”
The wins of 2012 and ’13 came off the back of a final defeat to UCC in 2011. Never before have they reached four finals in such a compacted time period.
“There’s great credit due to the players, and the management teams gone before us,” Nolan says.
“The backdoor can work both ways, though, in saying that, I think Castlehaven have won every first-round match since 2011. Before, when you won a championship and then had the Munster championship, you found you were tired and you seemed to be a sitting duck for other teams.
“These lads have shown great character to be able to keep coming back. After losing to Carbery Rangers in the quarter-final last year, they had a few months to recharge the batteries and have come back strongly.” And now, the biggest test awaits, as Nemo seek to avenge their final defeat of 2013.
“Going back through the years, we’d have been very friendly with Nemo, we’re probably very like them,” Nolan says. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that we model ourselves on Nemo but we’d have a similar ethos.
“They’re a very good family club. Nemo have superb players, they have a fabulous forward line and if they get chances they’re not going to miss. They’re the benchmark and we’ll have to be at our best to beat them.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved