A new era has begun for Cork hurling with four new appointments made in the last couple of weeks. The County Board have made a real statement of intent with not just the appointments of the managers but with the backroom teams that will the accompany the respective sides.
Kieran Kingston returns to the senior role that he held from 2016 to 2017, leading Cork to a Munster title and left after an All-Ireland semi-final exit to Waterford, citing work commitments. Kingston has spoken of ‘unfinished business’ and being handed a three-year term is one that echoes hunger from the manager and most importantly continuity. Indeed, continuity is a key message conveyed by the Cork Chairperson Tracey Kennedy. There is now a clear long-term plan with a chance for players and coaches alike to progress
through the ranks where there will be a continuity in the style of play and those who will be taking the reins from year to year. For the next three years at least, it seems that Kingston will be the man to end the 14 year wait for Liam McCarthy. Kingston will be joined by Diarmuid O’Sullivan who is also returning after walking away with Kingston in 2017. Former Dublin manager Ger Cunningham will also take up a role as selector.
Speaking of backroom teams, perhaps the most exciting aspect of these recent appointments is the amount of big names who are joining the fold. In the minor age group in particular there seems to be a fresh start with Donal Óg Cusack being joined by former All-Ireland winners Seán Óg Ó hAilpín and Tom Kenny, all three players were involved in the strikes with the County Board in 2002 and 2008/09. If someone said at the time that these players would return in a coaching capacity at Cork county level, they would have been laughed at. Time is a great healer as they say and in this case it seems to have done the trick, despite some objections from various club representatives and the fact that Cusack is only getting a one year term is quite puzzling. One thing that can be guaranteed is that this will attract bums on seats. The U20s also have their fair share of familiar faces to join manager Pat Ryan at the helm. Former All-Ireland winner Wayne Sherlock and current Imokilly manager Fergal Condon will assist the Sarsfield’s man in attempting to make it third time lucky for the U20s, who have been beaten in two All-Ireland finals in as many years.
This clear-out is an unprecedented one but shows that the County Board despite their critics, are not afraid of making big decisions and seem to be uninterested in holding grudges from the past in order to rediscover ‘our Corkness’. One trend that is very noticeable here is the amount of ex-players that have only retired in the last 5 years who are returning in a coaching capacity, many of whom were involved in at least one of the strikes. This has traditionally been a big barrier in the past when it came to appointing coaches
as the old County Board led by Frank Murphy were accused of not appointing some of the younger coaches and instead opting for familiar faces from the 1970s and 80s. The game of hurling has evolved significantly since then and the younger coaches coming through have so much to contribute in terms of experience and knowledge of the modern game.
And there you have it, the new Cork coaching panel to lead the new era of Cork hurling. Cork hurling is back, and so is Corkness.