Cleary was in consideration the last time there was a vacancy, when Brian Cuthbert became manager two years ago, and was considered the favourite this time round.
The Castlehaven man won two All-Ireland senior medals on the field of play in 1989 and 1990 — he is due to feature on Sunday in Croke Park as part of the Cork jubilee team of 1990 — while he also enjoyed success as a manager. He was in charge when the Rebels won an All- Ireland in the U21 grade in 2009, and he acted as a selector in their 2007 All-Ireland triumph in the same grade.
The remaining candidates are Ronan McCarthy, Ephie Fitzgerald and Ned English. English managed Duhallow this season and their recent exit from the Cork County championship will not help his cause.
Both Fitzgerald and McCarthy have inter-county experience — Nemo Rangers clubman Fitzgerald coached the Clare senior team this year, while McCarthy was a selector under outgoing Cork manager Cuthbert. Both men played for the Cork senior team: McCarthy lined out in defence for Cork in the 1999 All-Ireland final, while Fitzgerald won All-Ireland medals at U21 level.
The Cork County Board appointed a five-man committee to find a replacement for Cuthbert, consisting of former players John O’Driscoll, John Coleman and Nicholas Murphy, along with county secretary Frank Murphy and county chairman Ger Lane.