Cork boss Kingston: This is the time of year we all love to be out hurling

Cork boss Kingston: This is the time of year we all love to be out hurling
Cork manager Kieran Kingston and selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan watch as Mark Coleman prepares to take a sideline in Thurles. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

IN a perfect world, Kieran Kingston’s Cork hurlers would have beaten Limerick in the opening round of the Munster Hurling Championship and would now be looking forward to taking on Waterford next Sunday in Walsh Park.

That would be followed by a home game against Clare and ending the round-robin series with a trip to Thurles to face the All-Ireland champions.

But there is no such thing as a perfect world for any inter-county boss or his squad of players right now and it’s just a wait-and-see situation to find out as to how it will all pan out.

Kingston, in his second term as Cork boss, is an optimist by nature and he is still hoping that there will be a championship this year, whatever the format may be.

“Yes, of course, you would still be hopeful that we will get a championship, but we are still in the dark as to what might happen.

“All we know at the moment is what was communicated to us by the GAA president John Horan on The Sunday Game two weeks ago.

“That was the last update we got when he said that as long as social distancing stayed in place, he could not see games taking place.

“It really is out of our control and we must adhere to whatever decisions are taken and be governed by the experts.’’

Kieran Kingston and selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan during the league. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Kieran Kingston and selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan during the league. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Kingston told The Echo that everybody wants to see a resumption of the GAA season, whether it be at club level or inter-county.

“Of course, firstly, the players want to play, we want to be able to manage them, supporters want games, everybody sings from the same hymn sheet.

“This is the time of the year, the long evenings, the training sessions when you want to be out on the pitches, the same in the clubs.

“Everybody is missing out, I know the Cork players are raring to get back out there, but they cannot train at the moment, they have to adhere to the guidelines set out."

The Cork boss, while unable to be with them and manage them, keeps in contact through Zoom and by phone to individuals now and then to find out how they are.

“That’s all you can do really, advise them to adhere with the guidelines that have been put in place by the GAA before we get more clarity on what can be done and not done.

“Players these days, anyway, look after themselves, they are intelligent young men and at this time all they want to do is get back out there together and play hurling and we just don’t know when that will happen.’’

Much has been said and written in the media about what format the championship will take when it resumes, an acceptance that things will be different when it does. Kingston has no issues with that.

“Not really, the round-robin format in the provinces has been a great success, but that might not happen this year now and it could be a knockout competition.

“To be honest, either way we just want to get back out there and accept what’s put in place. One understands the issues surrounding social distancing and all the other issues involved but in time that may change and the experts are looking at all that.

“There’s talk of the championship being played in October, November, maybe into December and even into next year. It would not be ideal, but we’d be okay with it although it would have to be looked at how going into next season would impact on that season."

Kingston is in his first year back at the helm, the first of three, and he certainly does not want to miss out on one of them.

“Of course not, no backroom team anywhere does, the players don’t either at club or inter-county level.

“If there is a resumption at some stage you would have to have some sort of lead in to it. Players might be naturally fit, but you just could not go immediately into the environment of a major championship game.

“Getting back up to match day fitness would take some time.’’

Cork did not reach the knockout stages of the league and while Kingston was disappointed with that, he still took some positives from the campaign.

“Yes, we certainly wanted to make the knockout stages of the league, every game we play, competitive or not, we want to win, but at the same time, we took a few positives from it.

“Definitely, we got Colm Spillane back into action after a long lay-off, he’s a big player for us, we got to look at players operate in different positions and we got to look at some new players to the squad too.

“The players who had done well in the Fitzgibbon Cup carried on with that good form with us, there was a good number involved in that, those were positives."

Sean O'Donoghue gets off the sliotar from UCC's Shane Kingston during the Canon O'Brien Cup at The Mardyke. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Sean O'Donoghue gets off the sliotar from UCC's Shane Kingston during the Canon O'Brien Cup at The Mardyke. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

And the championship?

“Our last league game against Galway, to the championship opener with Limerick was 13 weeks and we would have been able to get an awful lot done on the training ground in that time.

“We would have gone into the championship in a positive frame of mind, the other counties, too, would have felt the same."

And playing behind closed doors?

"Again, not ideal, but we’d have to go along with it. It would be the same for the rest, but without the supporters it would be strange.

“Look, as I said, it’s a wait-and-see situation. There is a lot of speculation, ill-informed comment, that kind of thing going on. We will have to see, be guided by those charged with the responsibility of making the decisions whether or not we’ll get back.

“Hopefully, that will happen and we’ll get back playing.”

Cork manager Kieran Kingston after their defeat in Galway, which ruled the Rebels out of the league. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Cork manager Kieran Kingston after their defeat in Galway, which ruled the Rebels out of the league. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

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