Sources close to the Castlehaven clubman confirmed yesterday that Cleary was not under consideration, leaving Ronan McCarthy, Ephie Fitzgerald and Ned English as the candidates remaining.
Cleary indicated two weeks ago that he was withdrawing from the race, but the Cork 1990 All-Ireland-winning team was the jubilee side honoured at this year’s All-Ireland final, and it is understood that at a celebratory dinner in Dublin the evening before that game, his former teammates were loud in their praise and support for Cleary taking over as Cork senior football manager.
There was widespread speculation on Leeside earlier this week that Cleary had reconsidered and was negotiating terms with the Cork County Board, but the former Cork U21 manager is now firmly out of the running.
It means that vacancies remain at the helm of both the senior football and hurling teams on Leeside, given hurling boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy also stepped down after this season concluded.
It’s understood officials are focused on finding a replacement for Cuthbert before turning to the job of finding a hurling manager, and the process to find a football manager is more advanced than on the hurling side.
Nevertheless, it’s believed that Kieran Kingston — who worked under Barry-Murphy as a selector and coach — and Tomás Mulcahy, Cork’s All-Ireland-winning captain in 1990, are under serious consideration, as is Mark Landers, who captained Cork to the 1999 All-Ireland .