Paul McCarthy could have easily walked away. Munster and All-Ireland crowns annexed last summer, there was little left for him to achieve as Cork junior football boss.
McCarthy, though, relishes a challenge and was enticed by the prospect of building a team from scratch for the current campaign.
An earlier start was required to put in place the necessary foundation; nonetheless, McCarthy is confident the current crop can emulate the achievements of the all-conquering 2013 class. Their first major hurdle presents itself this evening, a visit to Tralee with Cork’s Munster title on the line.
“What attracted us is that last year is gone, this year is a new year. And you drive on to achieve more, you strive to keep winning. That is our mentality and that is what we have been driving home to the players,” said McCarthy.
“Building a new team was a challenge. We were lucky in that we had great numbers willing to try out for the team. There are a lot of footballers in Cork who want to play for their county, irrespective of the grade.
“It was just a matter of trying to come up with the right mix that would hopefully see us through the championship campaign. Picking the panel we knew we needed a couple of experienced heads who had been around the junior block before, but our philosophy is to give as many emerging players a chance as we can.
“We started in mid-February, which would have been earlier than previous years, and we put in a lot of work with the team.
“We are pleased with how everything has worked out and hopefully the fruits of the panel’s work will pay off in Tralee.”
Limerick were comfortably overcome at the semi-final juncture, McCarthy, though, isn’t as naïve not to realise the step-up in class they will encounter this evening.
“I travelled to Ennis to see Kerry’s semi-final, they are a good team and performed well that day. They do have good forwards, but you give any Kerry footballer room and he will punish you. They have Philip O’Connor and Gavin O’Grady, both of whom played college football in Cork. Then there is Brian Crowley and Paul Kennelly who are two very good players.
“There was always the threat the lads mightn’t gel together as quickly as you might like given this is a completely new team. We are very pleased with how everything has progressed since the Limerick game and we are really looking forward to this Kerry fixture.
“Victory this evening would make it somewhat extra sweet given where we have come from and for the lads involved this is their year, they weren’t involved last year so they want to do it for themselves.”
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