John Cleary swatted away speculation about the vacant Cork senior football team manager’s post – after guiding the county’s minor lades to a third successive All-Ireland crown yesterday, writes Jackie Cahill.
Cleary’s name has been linked with the post once again following Peadar Healy's departure after two years in charge.
Two-time All-Ireland SFC medallist Cleary was interested in succeeding Conor Counihan in 2013 – but the job went to Brian Cuthbert instead.
His name was put forward as Cuthbert’s successor two years ago but after considering the prospect, Castlehaven clubman Cleary withdrew from the race.
Cleary worked with the Cork U21s in 2007, when they were crowned All-Ireland champions, and he managed the 2009 crop that repeated the trick.
Cleary also played a key role as consultant to Counihan during his successful tenure in charge, which saw Cork claim an All-Ireland senior title in 2010.
When asked about his future intentions following yesterday’s big win over Galway, Cleary replied: “I don’t know, today is about the girls.
“All of my focus is on that. That’s for down along the line – we’ll see what happens.
“It would be taking away from the girls’ day today if I went ranting and raving about anything that’s coming up along the line. I’d rather enjoy this day and we’ll see what comes in the future.
“There are lots of vacancies but today is the girls’ day and I’m going to enjoy that.”
But Cleary paid tribute to the “unbelievable courage” displayed by Cork in Healy’s last game in charge.
In a memorable qualifier at the Gaelic Grounds, the Rebels took Mayo to extra-time, before losing out by just a point.
Cleary said: “Without a doubt, unbelievable courage and very unlucky. And I just heard the Mayo scoreline (against Roscommon), what they’ve gone on to since.
“I suppose, look, it’s fine lines between getting over the line and not getting over the line.
“They were very unfortunate that they didn’t get there that day – and they showed huge courage.”