Cork senior hurling manager Kieran Kingston is on the lookout for a new coach with the departure of Frank Flannery from the Rebels’ backroom team.
Changes were expected in the Cork management setup — the Rebel hurlers had a disappointing 2016, winning no regular-season league games and only maintaining their Division 1A status with a play-off win over Galway. Cork were well beaten by Tipperary in the Munster championship and although they enjoyed a narrow win over Dublin in the qualifiers, their season came to an end when Wexford scored a first championship win over Cork in 60 years in Thurles last month.
Flannery came in as coach with Cork on the back of his success with Wexford club side Oulart-the-Ballagh, who won the Leinster club championship last year.
The Carrigtwohill native was also involved with Cork intermediate hurling side Milford in recent year, and also guided that club’s camogie side to county, Munster and All-Ireland titles. In 2013 he coached Ardfert to the Kerry senior title.
Flannery has significant intercounty experience, having coached the Cork minor hurlers in 2012 and 2013, as well as being part of Waterford boss Derek McGrath’s backroom team in McGrath’s first year in charge.
It’s not clear whether Kingston will bring in a new coach from outside his current management structure to replace Flannery, as he has a potential ready-made replacement in selector Pat Ryan.
Ryan has been involved in his club Sarsfields’ recent county championship victories and is the most successful club coach in the current Cork scene. Kingston’s other selectors are Pat Hartnett and Diarmuid O’Sullivan.
It’s also not clear whether Kingston will appoint another selector, as Flannery was a coach rather than a selector, but it would be a major surprise if the Cork manager were to go outside the county for a replacement coach, despite the Leesiders’ disappointing record at all levels of hurling in recent years.
Meanwhile, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte will set off on a tour of the county this weekend in search of new talent. Harte will trawl for prospects by attending a host of club championship matches.
He will also use the exercise to monitor the form of established county squad members. Eight championship matches will be played at four venues over the weekend, including four SFC first-round ties.
“The season won’t be closed for me, because there’s lots of championship football coming up, and I want to see the current form of the players who are in the squad, and see if there are any more players out there who merit attention, and that will keep me interested,” said Harte.
Reflecting on two seasons of rebuilding and transition, Harte sees a bright future for Tyrone.
Young players have tasted the pressure of playing big championship games at Croke Park, gaining vital experience which they will utilise and build upon during 2017.
“I think it gives them a great deal of confidence to know that they’re capable of playing at a very high level, and we have a lot of younger players in the entire squad at the minute, and they’ve never had this experience before.
“And now they’ve got two years of very valuable experience, and I hope that we’ll see the real value of that when they go to Division 1 of the league next year, and they meet the top teams, because for some of these players, that will be their first experience of a Division 1 league campaign.
“And I think that, along with a real assault on retaining the Ulster title would give them a huge amount of confidence, but these are challenges that we’ll face in 2017, and I hope they’ll bring the confidence of the last two years with them to do that.”
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