Cork hurling manager Kieran Kingston isn’t dwelling on the 2019 clash between Cork and Kilkenny ahead of this Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final between the two rivals.
Kilkenny beat Cork 2-27 to 3-18 that day, but Kingston says Cork want to “create their own history” this weekend.
“With the time frame between games, we didn’t look beyond Dublin last weekend, obviously, and we didn’t start looking at Kilkenny until the Monday.
“The focus has to be on getting yourselves right first of all and then looking at what the opposition may bring.
“We’re trying get our own house in order and we’re not really dwelling on what happened in the past in order to do that.
“The lads have represented Cork well all year and we’re looking to get them to create their own history on Sunday.
“We spoke at the start of the year about a number of objectives which we had, and one would have been getting to Croke Park. Another is getting to an All-Ireland final.
“From our perspective, the All-Ireland semi-final this Sunday is a final for us — we don’t get to participate in the biggest day in the sporting calendar unless we win that game.
“So we’re delighted to be in Croke Park, that’s stage one, but we also have to put a performance in once we get there, and we know it’s going to be a massive challenge for us.
“As I said last weekend, we’re playing against a team for whom Croke Park is effectively a home venue, but Cork teams have always loved going to Croke Park and we’re no different.”
Kingston is drawing confidence from wins such as his side’s character-building victory over Clare two weeks ago.
“One of the most pleasing things this year for me has been the focus of the players from game to game, there’s fierce honesty in the group and they’re playing for each other.
“They showed a lot of character coming down the stretch in both the Clare and Dublin games. Those are the positives but, on the other side, at times we’ve tended to switch off — we did that in the second half against Dublin [and] we lost the third quarter by a point.
“Against Clare, we were six points up heading into the final minutes and ended up having a bit of a sweat. We just need to have that bit of maturity, to play to the whistle and to be ruthless when we’re in charge.
“We learned some things from that Clare game that we brought into the Dublin game and now we’ve to go again eight days later.
“But the lads want to play games, obviously. They put huge work in during the winter and since we got back together a few months ago. It’s all about freshness now.”
Maintaining that freshness is a challenge, he adds.
“There’s a very short turnaround between games, week to week, but there are good and bad sides to that.
“We trained Tuesday, we’ll do a little bit tonight [Friday] and name the team after training at 9pm.
“But the main focus this week has been on rest and recovery, getting plenty of rest into the lads so that they’re ready to go on Sunday, as well as looking after little niggles that they have from the last couple of weeks.”
And the opposition?
Kingston describes Kilkenny as “the masters for years, apart from a couple of exceptional teams which have come and beaten them.
“We know they’ll be hugely motivated and hugely physical, just like they were in 2019. We’ve seen that this year as well in their performances.
“We know this will be a much bigger task than we’ve faced this year, but it’s in Croke Park and it’s great to see the bigger crowds there and that Cork supporters will be able to go in bigger numbers than we’ve had so far.
“We know the performances we’ve given so far, in terms of the consistency across 70-plus minutes, wouldn’t be good enough on Sunday.
“We’re going to have to up that by at least another 15%,” he says