ALL-IRELAND winning boss Conor Counihan is set to stay on in charge of the Cork senior footballers for a further two years. Speculation mounted over Counihan’s future since his initial tenure officially came to an end after last month’s All-Ireland decider triumph over Down.
But he is set to accept the offer of another two seasons as manager from the Cork county board with official confirmation likely within the next 24 hours.
The standard practice in Cork is for All-Ireland winning managers to be offered another 12 month stint if their original term has expired. Yet, significantly, delegates at last week’s county board meeting rubber-stamped a motion to offer Counihan a two year term. There are likely to be minimal changes to the backroom team that played an integral role in the All-Ireland triumph. Selectors Ger O’Sullivan and Jim Nolan have extensive intercounty experience from being involved during Billy Morgan’s tenure, while Terry O’Neill was involved previously when Larry Tompkins was in the hot-seat. The remaining selector Peadar Healy has played a major role in Cork’s preparations, along with physical trainer Aidan O’Connell, as his innovative training has been a key element in Cork’s success.
Counihan’s decision to remain at the helm could have a crucial influence in tempting long-serving members of the Cork squad to commit to the cause for the 2011 season. There has been speculation over the intercounty futures of goalkeeper Alan Quirke (34), defender John Miskella (32) and midfielder Nicholas Murphy (32), who all played important roles in the final win over Down. But, despite recent injury problems, they could now be tempted not to break up the All-Ireland winning squad. It is likely those experienced operators would be allowed come back at their own pace next season with Miskella and Murphy benefiting this year from peripheral roles in the league which allowed them to shake off injury problems in time for the championship battles in the summer.
Counihan’s championship record has been excellent since he assumed the role of Cork senior manager in February 2008. Cork have won 14 out of 19 championship matches under Counihan’s watch with two draws and three defeats in their other ties during that period. As well as guiding the county to their first All-Ireland title in two decades last month, Counihan has also steered Cork to two Munster senior football crowns, one NFL Division 1 title, one NFL Division 2 title and one McGrath Cup triumph.
Cork have also been handed a favourable Munster championship draw next season as they have avoided both Kerry and Limerick in the opening rounds. Cork are scheduled to meet Clare in the quarter-final with the winners advancing to face Waterford in the last four. Under the home-and-away agreements that exist in Munster, Cork will be entitled to home advantage in both games if involved. Before that the Rebels will open their 2011 league campaign with an NFL Division 1 trip away to provincial rivals Kerry on Sunday February 6.
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