For Kingston, there must be a sense of unfinished business

John Meyler’s departure after two years as Cork senior hurling manager means the county is once again on the look-out for leadership.

For Kingston, there must be a sense of unfinished business

John Meyler’s

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Before the candidates are assessed, a quick look at Meyler’s tenure reveals a Munster title and a championship exit at the All-Ireland semi-final stage last year to the eventual champions, followed by bare qualification for this year’s All-Ireland series and departure from the championship at the quarter-final stage.

Meyler was also involved as a Cork senior selector in 2017, when the county won the Munster title and lost at the All-Ireland semi-final stage.

The positives from Meyler’s tenure are last year’s provincial title and the introduction of new players such as Niall O’Leary and Robert Downey as live options for the senior side; the main negative is a return to the inconsistency that bedevilled Cork up to the 2017 season.

This year Cork’s indifferent league form bled into the championship displays.

Disappointment against Tipperary, a great display against Limerick, good against Waterford, disappointment against Clare, efficient against Westmeath and disappointment against Kilkenny.

John Meyler and Kilkenny manager Brian Cody shake hands after their clash earlier this month. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
John Meyler and Kilkenny manager Brian Cody shake hands after their clash earlier this month. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

That inability to put a run of consistent performances together will be all the more disappointing to those on Leeside given the improvement in 2017 and 2018.

In 2017 a second-half red card for Damien Cahalane was the fatal blow in Cork’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Waterford; the following year Cork were six points up against Limerick with seven minutes to go and lost in extra-time to the eventual All-Ireland champions. The performances this year never matched that consistency.

Inevitably reasons will be sought for that drop in quality, and the departure of the highly-regarded Gary Keegan as performance coach will surely come under scrutiny.

Keegan, who is regarded by Dublin manager Jim Gavin as a vital asset in their hunt for five All-Irelands in a row, was not involved with Cork this season. Replicating Keegan’s effect on players - or perhaps enticing him back into the fold - will be a key challenge for the new manager.

The identity of that new manager will exercise minds in Cork for the next few days, of course. Kieran Kingston’s sudden departure two years ago may mean there is a sense of unfinished business for the Tracton man.

Significantly, Kingston was the manager who brought Keegan on board initially and the two forged a strong working relationship.

If Kingston can bring Keegan back to Cork, that could be a significant factor. The players were very keen on working with Keegan, which is another consideration.

Denis Ring’s U20 side faces an All-Ireland semi-final this weekend against Kilkenny, a game that now has a sense of an audition about it for the big job.

The significance that county board officials in Cork attach to the upset loss in last year’s All-Ireland U21 final, when Ring’s star-studded side fell to a relatively unfancied Tipperary, will surely influence his chances of getting the senior manager's post.

More radical choices would include the likes of Ben O’Connor, a rare coach on the Cork club scene who has enjoyed All-Ireland experience (with Charleville at intermediate level) or Tom Kenny, who has been involved with UCC and was brought in by Meyler this summer to the Cork senior set-up.

Charleville coach Ben O'Connor
Charleville coach Ben O'Connor

Donal Og Cusack has also been mentioned in some quarters as a possible Cork manager.

One issue which will need to be given strong consideration is the input of the current playing squad when it comes to appointing a new senior manager, particularly with the number of problems in Cork in recent years with such appointments.

Cork now have an experienced panel of players: many of them have at least two provincial medals and several have won All-Star awards.

They will expect to be consulted on the new appointment and their preference is likely to carry considerable weight with county board officials in Cork, particularly new CEO Kevin O’Donovan.

Dalo's Hurling Podcast: Tipperary's defiance. Will Davy Fitz stay on? Kilkenny tactics. Cody's greatest semi-final victory?

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