SHANE Kingston would love to get his hands on silverware with the Douglas hurlers.
The gifted forward picked up Premier 1 minor medals in hurling and football with the southside club and was to the fore for their U21 footballers when they captured that title in 2017. With Kingston, the Cadogans, Brian Turnbull and Stephen Moylan, among the many talented players in the Douglas ranks, they’re regularly touted as potential county champs.
Yet in recent years they’ve suffered disappointing defeats to Killeagh and St Finbarr’s, while Sars knocked them out last season.
Now, with club action running from July 30 to October 11 and no inter-county training until mid-September, Kingston has his sights set on making an impact in the green and black.
“It’s nice to get a good opportunity with the club because normally we’ve only a week to 10 days to prepare. Douglas have always had a good team but we haven’t won anything at senior. I’ve every underage medal but none at senior and you’d be going for it this year when we’ve more of a run-in.”
There is no clarity on what format the club game will take, with the Cork County Board refusing, for now, to rule out the group format that had been proposed to come in this summer. Whatever way it falls, Kingston is looking forward to pulling on the Douglas geansaí again.
This season, his uncle John is involved in the set-up, as is Shane Brick, the former Kerry dynamo who finished his career with Tracton, who Shane’s father Kieran hurled with. They’d been advising club hurlers in recent months to stay sharp and ready for when Covid-19 restrictions were eased.
“The coach Shane Brick and my John were always harping on to fellas to get their own bit done. All they could do was put the structure in place and let lads do their own bit.”
Kieran brought Shane Brick into the Douglas management last year, while Shane he previously coached Shane as a youngster in school.
“I had Shane in Primary School with St Anthony’s so I won Sciath na Scol with him so I knew what he was about and I’m looking forward to working with him again.”
Brick was the wristiest Kerry hurler of his generation, while Kingston has been lining out for UCC in the past two years with the current Kingdom genius with the camán: Shane Conway.
“Conway is savage. I’d have him on my team any day of the week. What epitomised him for me was when we were struggling [in the Fitz final] against Carlow, he moved out the field and picked up a rake of dirty ball and turned the game. I’ve great time for Conway.”
Conway was the Electric Ireland MVP for the 2019 campaign, with Kingston succeeding him in 2020 as the College retained the Fitzgibbon Cup.
After the harrowing losses to Limerick in the All-Ireland senior semi-final and Tipperary in the All-Ireland U21 decider in 2018, was getting over the line with UCC particularly important to Kingston and other Rebels in the Skull and Crossbones like Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mark Coleman and Robbie O’Flynn?
“I wouldn’t be going into a Fitzgibbon game worrying about a Cork U21 All-Ireland final. It was a new tournament. I’ve had plenty of losses with Corn Uí Mhuirí and Harty Cup before... Definitely to do it back-to-back was sweet though.”
That was ‘winter hurling’ at its most engrossing, which was it turned out was ideal preparation for the revamped championship which could yet roll beyond Christmas. An advantage?
“It will the same for everyone and the pitches, Croke Park and Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be like a carpet. For a lot of the Cork fellas we’ve won Fitzgibbons in January and February and most are used to playing in those conditions.”
Kingston understands that there will be a major squeeze on club and county action from here, but it’s better than nothing.
“No matter what way they did it people would be giving out. Being positive at least we’ve something. If you were told a month ago there would be club in July and August and inter-county in October/November, you’d have said ‘no chance’.”
Now it’s time to take the chances as they come.
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