Former O’Donovan Rossa dual player and football coach Shane Crowley has moved on to pastures new this season. Shane has accepted the challenge of taking over the reigns of the reigning county champions Carbery Rangers for the 2017 season. Shane talks to John Bohane about the forthcoming season and his successful tenure with O’Donovan Rossa, with whom he enjoyed a distinguished dual career.
Shane Crowley is a name synonymous with O’Donovan Rossa. He was an integral player who operated in a number of positions during a superb playing career with their senior football team. Shane was also a gifted and fearless hurling player with O’Donovan Rossa. He played key roles on the two Rossa hurling teams who captured county honours in 2003 and 2013 respectively. During the latter years of his playing career, Shane continued to soldier on with the Rossas junior football team, as well as holding down a coaching role with their senior football team. Shane stepped down from his position as senior football coach with the Rossas at the end of last season after he successfully guided them to glory in the Paddy Minihane Cup.
When news filtered through just prior to the Christmas season that Shane had accepted the challenge of guiding the fortunes of the Carbery Rangers senior footballers this season, it initially came as somewhat of a surprise given his strong connections with O’Donovan Rossa. Shane however perfectly fits the Carbery Rangers senior manager template they have successfully worked off in recent seasons. He commands instant respect due to his proven football and coaching prowess. He is bright, young, determined and hungry to succeed. Shane is eagerly looking forward to the forthcoming season and the challenge, which awaits him with the defending county champions.
“I am certainly looking forward to the challenge and it was something completely unexpected. I have two young sons, one of whom started playing football with the U6 Carbery Rangers team last season, so I would have helped out on occasions with those training sessions. So you could say my foot was maybe some bit in the door, as my sons will be Carbery Rangers players, so that was my future; and I got to know a few people from within the club that way. Then when last year’s successful management team stepped down, perhaps I was on their radar as someone who could come in and help out.”
Carbery Rangers, who captured the Andy Scannell Cup for the first time in their illustrious history last season following their win against Ballincollig, begin the defence of their championship crown with an intriguing derby clash against Clonakilty. Shane is anticipating a very tough championship clash against their local rivals. “Very tough draw. I know Clonakilty had an annus horribilis a couple of seasons ago, but you must remember they had a lot of injuries to key players and were in transition with a lot of strong U21 players not ready for the step up to senior at the time. Those players will have matured now and with Clonakilty’s tradition and resources they’ll have a big part to play in this seasons championship. It’s a local derby for both sets of players. Clonakilty are on an upward curve again and we will have to be at our best to come out with a positive result.”
The new Carbery Rangers senior football coach does not anticipate any problems motivating his players ahead of this seasons campaign. He is adamant they still possess they hunger to mount a sustained bid for championship glory this season once again. “No it won’t be hard to motivate them at all. They appear to be well motivated still. You must remember this is a group of players who have been so incredibly consistent in Cork for the last decade. As good as last season was, they ended it with defeat to The Nire in the Munster championship and I get the feeling it is still bugging them.”
Shane will join forces with renowned GAA coach Maurice Moore with the Carbery Rangers senior team. Shane is looking forward to working with the highly regarded former Carbery Rangers player.
“Knowing the management team that were coming in and significantly being appointed joint manager with Maurice was the main factor. There is a good delegation of duties and a very good chemistry between all the management team. Maurice is a very good coach, very progressive in his thinking, a fantastic organiser, well qualified in strength and conditioning aspect of things but most of all he really cares deeply about the club. Rosscarbery are certainly lucky to have a guy like that within their club.”
Shane admits to always being impressed from the outside looking in, so to speak, with regard the strength and character of this particular set of players within the Carbery Rangers club. He is looking forward to building a strong future with players he admires thoroughly. “I have always been impressed by their fortitude and pure determination to win. They have plenty of good footballers but so have many other clubs. What sets them apart was their will to achieve. You can only have massive respect for this squad of players, they had plenty of adversity losing semi-finals and a county final over the years, but they persisted with and got their just reward in 2016. The respect other clubs have for them is now replaced by a determination to knock them off their perch and that will mean Carbery Rangers have to step things up even more again this season. They always played attractive football, which seemed to be driven by the players.”
Shane still retains very fond and great memories of his time with O’Donovan Rossa, both as a player and coach. He experienced some disappointing and agonising defeats in big games over the years, but the great experiences far outweigh the disappointing times admits Shane. “O’Donovan Rossa is a super club and despite a number of lean years, there have also been plenty of successful ones. The club is still a consistent presence in the senior football ranks since 1986. It is a club I am very proud of. I have been involved in four senior semi-final defeats, a Flyer Nyhan defeat and all rankle still. It’s unfortunate, but you do seem to remember the defeats more. We lost to Carbery in a replayed county semi-final played in 2000. Losing to Clonakilty in the 2003 semi-final was and still is tough to take, we were going well at the time and really fancied our chances of going all the way. Lost to Duhallow in a county semi-final in 2012 and as a coach when we lost in a semi-final to Castlehaven in 2015. Winning the Kelleher Shield a couple of months later eased the pain but only for a short while. Being involved with the U21 county winning team in 2011 was a great experience, as were winning a number of Kelleher Shields and junior hurling titles. I had plenty of great times but I had some missed opportunities as well.”
Shane, who enjoyed a stellar playing career with O’Donovan Rossa in both codes, will miss playing and lining out with his friends and colleagues due to intense work and coaching commitments. “I’m 41 now and apart from dislocations and broken bones, I never had muscle injuries which probably prolonged my career. I finished playing senior at 36 or 37 (41 if you count playing in the Paddy Minihane final last season) and continued playing junior football and hurling until last season, but the body is getting weary now and I won’t have the time to commit to football. I have had plenty of great memories in football, but more importantly I made great friends and developed strong relationships. One of the proudest achievements during my time in the club is being involved with and playing hurling. A number of people work so hard to keep hurling alive in the club. The hardest fight is against apathy and I would have loved nothing more during my time than to win a Flyer Nyhan trophy but we lost the final in 2008 to Mathunas and that is a massive disappointment still. We won two county junior B titles, the only adult hurling titles won by the club and we won the Junior A league as well. We have plenty to be proud of and I certainly hope hurling remains a part of O’Donovan Rossa.”