Players like Kingston but appointment not foregone conclusion

Kieran Kingston’s return as manager is the preferred option of the Cork senior hurling panel in the wake of John Meyler’s departure.

Players like Kingston but appointment not foregone conclusion

Kieran Kingston’s return as manager is the preferred option of the Cork senior hurling panel in the wake of John Meyler’s departure.

The St Finbarr’s clubman announced his departure from the post yesterday, and the Irish Examiner has learned that the Rebel hurlers strongly favour Kingston’s return as manager two years after the Tracton clubman stepped down as manager due to work and family commitments.

Yesterday’s announcement from the Cork County Board stating that Meyler had stepped down included the line: “A process will now be put in place for the appointment of a new manager”.

That process is expected to include consultation with the senior squad on the appointment, which will be a first for new CEO Kevin O’Donovan.

The Irish Examiner understands that any such consultation will result in a strong endorsement from the players for the return of Kingston.

It is not a foregone conclusion that Kingston will be able to resume as Cork manager, however.

When he stepped down, he told this newspaper: “For the foreseeable future, I’m unable to combine my work and family commitments with the sheer amount of time needed for inter-county management at the top level. I’m self-employed and I travel with my work, which thankfully is very busy at the moment. This impacts on the time available for intercounty duties.”

Nor is it clear who would be in the backroom on a Kingston ticket. When he stepped down two years ago his selectors were Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Pat Ryan, Pat Hartnett, and Meyler.

It is not clear if all or any of them would be involved if Kingston returns.

However, a potential link-up with Gary Keegan could be on the cards if Kingston resumes his position.

The players were enthusiastic about working with the former Irish Institute of Sport director, who has also had success with the Dublin Gaelic footballers and Leinster Rugby as a performance coach.

Keegan’s input was seen as crucial to the turnaround in the hurlers’ performances during Kingston’s tenure.

In 2016, the team was beaten in the championship by Wexford but then won the Munster Championship the next year against the odds, before losing a controversial All-Ireland semi-final to Waterford.

Keegan was not involved with Cork this year and the team were not as consistent.

Meanwhile, former Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack has expressed his interest in the vacancy, but asked: “Is it the right time?”, adding that the new high performance manager in Cork is the biggest appointment to be made on Leeside (interviews are ongoing in Cork for that high performance role, as reported in yesterday’s Irish Examiner).

“Of course I’d be interested,” Cusack told the RTÉ GAA Podcast when asked about the Cork senior hurling vacancy.

“I played for Cork since I was under 14 and at every level since.

“Is it the right time? What are Cork looking for? Is it one-year, two-year, three-year? Does the manager bring in his own people?

“I’ve said it before — the biggest appointment that Cork are going to make over the next while is that high performance person.

“You’d have to say Cork won a fierce Munster Championship last year and they had won it the year previous, so retaining it was a challenge.

“They were one of two teams that got out of Munster both years of this new system (along with Limerick) and much has been said about last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, so it is a fact that John (Meyler) was within a whisker of getting to the final.

“I think in general that people will have felt that the team didn’t progress this year and it would be hard to argue with that based on results.

“He (Meyler) has done well over the last couple of years, he was also part of a lot of underage management teams.”

Cusack is not the only former Cork goalkeeper who has spoken about the vacancy. Ger Cunningham, who was a selector when Cork reached the 2013 All-Ireland final, said earlier this week of the Cork job: “There’s a lot involved, inter-county management is a big commitment from all points of view. It would have to be something to be considered if it was there, at the time it was offered.”

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