By and large, the general public expect a club’s county players to deliver in the championship. It is perhaps a bit too simplistic and fails to take into account these men are the ones most likely to come in for extra attention from the opposition.
Patrick Horgan, for instance, is regularly double-marked when playing for Glen Rovers but that means others can benefit from the extra space.
The chances are, though, if you thumb through the scorers after a Carbery Rangers game, ‘J Hayes’ will be at or near the top of the listings. Tomorrow in Páirc Uí Chaoimh against Bishopstown (4.15pm), John Hayes will seek to help the Rosscarber club to a first senior final. But, while he and the club have enjoyed a great year so far — most notably dethroning Castlehaven — all that has gone before is forgotten.
“The way I look at it is that it was only a fourth-round game,” he says. “I don’t really care who it was. Those extra things are for the supporters or whoever, it’s irrelevant who we beat if we don’t progress on Sunday. We got a fourth-round win, then we had a quarter-final win and now we’ve a semi-final against Bishopstown.
“It’s the nature of the way I am, when the game is over you just move on from it. You can’t dwell on something, good or bad, you just try to learn from it and hope that it makes you stronger.
“You have to prove yourself every time you go out. I have learned from having a long enough career that, if you start worrying too much about what people are saying, you can forget about it. My complete and utter focus is on the next game.”
While Rangers needed a replay to get past the Haven, there was no sense of having lost their chance. If anything, it made them believe that they had the potential to mix it with the best.
“I thought we were in a good position,” Hayes says, “but then we went out of it and they had a spell where they got about 1-2 or 1-3 after half-time and pushed ahead. Then we woke up and it was good for us to come back from a deficit like that.
“We only played in that game for 35 or 40 minutes and got a draw, so we knew if we played for 60 minutes we were capable of getting a result.”
Tomorrow, they clash with Bishopstown for the third successive year. Ross won a 2012 quarter-final with only 12 men on the pitch by the end, but last year at the same stage they were blitzed.
“They had five goals before half-time, when you say it out loud it sounds incredible,” Hayes says.
“They made a deliberate tactic of going for goals. They weren’t flukes they got, we got opened up badly, they were very clinical. Maybe we were guilty of thinking after 2012 that we’d handle them again but they’re a very strong outfit.”
Having departed the Cork panel after the 2010 All-Ireland win, Hayes was recalled by Brian Cuthbert at the start of this year. As his mindset is with Ross, the aim is far more than making up the numbers. Thoughts of success with the Rebels are for another day, though.
“I suppose you have to be playing some way reasonable football to get back on to the Cork panel after having left it,” he says. “Ultimately, the season was a bit of a disappointment for us and I didn’t go back just for the sake of saying I was able to. I wanted to go back and be successful with Cork, what we all want.
“I’m not thinking about next year yet, I’ve only got Carbery Rangers in my head at the moment, we’ll worry about that when the club championship finishes.”
He hopes that won’t be for another while yet. It’s a far cry from over a decade ago when Ross strove for so long to escape the junior ranks.
“Obviously, when you’re a junior club you’re not thinking of the senior championship, not a hope.
“We’re up senior a good number of years now and we’re established. But, the way I see it and I’ve said it to the lads, we’ve only been knocking at the top table.
“We’re long enough senior now that the ambitions have to be high. Winning the semi-final is one more step towards achieving that.”
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