The unseen yards, outside of the white lines, were what Shane Kingston was keenest to reflect on in light of Cork’s success in the Munster SHC final, writes Peter McNamara.
Last Sunday, Thurles was decorated in red as Leesiders celebrated one of the most memorable provincial triumphs Cork have earned for many years.
It’s only July and yet, it seems, a season’s worth of slog has had to be taken care of.
This victory for the Rebels was never meant to happen, or so we were led to believe.
Nevertheless, it is Cork and Galway that have secured the first two All-Ireland semi-final berths.
Kingston, trying to take in such a marvellous achievement, stressed the work on the pitch is merely a by-product of the background team’s immense contributions.
“We could be training at 6pm or 7pm and yet our backroom team and management are down there at 4pm or 5pm getting prepared,” Kingston said. “They put in a phenomenal amount of work, all voluntary too.
“The work they put in behind the scenes nobody really sees. And they don’t really get any rewards for it. But it’s up to us then out on the field to show people the work they are doing behind it all.”
It is Kingston’s first campaign as a provincial senior champion. That, alone, would be a wonderful feeling for any player that still has a Munster U21 championship meeting with Waterford to come tomorrow night.
However, the fact his father, Kieran, is the manager of the senior side makes it all the sweeter, of course.
“It’s a really good feeling. At times, having your father in charge can be difficult as people would imagine,” he says, tongue-in-cheek, “but I know the unbelievable work he is putting in with the rest of the management team.
“It’s great to win this today but it definitely is an even better feeling with the father being in charge. We have worked hard for months and it’s brilliant we, as players, can give something back to the management.”
There is a grit beginning to define this particular Cork group that was lacking in the recent past. There is backbone and character in abundance too.
The Leesiders will need all of those traits and more if they are to go on and lift the Liam McCarthy Cup in September.
However, this is a team on a journey, and with every step their reserves of mental stamina increase.
Kingston can sense that element of their development evolving.
“When Clare, who were very good today, got on top of us and things were going against us, it was how we reacted, and how we reacted to similar situations in the previous games, that is most pleasing.
“They were threatening all day but when they hit their purple patch we hit back with a few scores.
“I think, mentally, that shows we are growing. We need to drive on now, though. People will forget about us winning Munster unless we’ve more success later this season,” he added.