KIERAN Kingston had not envisaged that his second coming as Cork senior hurling boss would have come so soon after his departure from his first tenure in charge ended two years ago.
Before a strong media presence at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Wednesday morning he outlined his vision for the next couple of years but, at the same time, strongly emphasising that next season will occupy his initial focus.
So how did it all come about?
“Firstly, I fully recognise the honour that it is and I am delighted to be back. Two years ago I certainly did not anticipate or expect that the opportunity to manage Cork again so soon but when John (Meyler) stepped down I had an approach from a player group to know would I consider it, that was the first thing.
“Then, obviously, I sat down with the County Board and Aidan O’Connell, the new Performance Manage to get a sense of support that is available and the culture that you are trying to create, then the serious reflection started."
It was very much a case of a new beginning for Cork hurling yesterday morning with Pat Ryan, Donal Óg Cusack and Noel Furlong accompanying Kingston in their roles as U20, minor and U16 managers respectively, plus the recently appointed High-Performance boss O’Connell.
“I suppose that it was coincidental that all the vacancies arose at the one time and it enabled the board to have appointments at all levels together and have the process to get the people that they wanted.
“And to create that culture and environment where there would be a transition of players from one group to the next and that it would be as seamless as much as possible."
Having the vast experience of Ger Cunningham and Diarmuid O’Sullivan alongside him is something that he views as huge asst.
“Yes, I worked with Diarmuid before, Diarmuid is an icon, he was a legend in the game and having Ger with me as well, he has huge experience, both as a manager and as a coach over many years.
“I am delighted to have both of them on board and we have other people too who will be joining us so I would be very happy with all of that. We will all know the challenges that are there, the stats speak for themselves and we haven’t been competing at the top table for a while.
“I cannot make any guarantees outside of the fact that myself, the Board, the people around me, the other managers, we are going to do everything in our power to ensure that we will be in a position that we will compete for major honours again."
While delighted that he has returned, some might have been surprised that it was so soon.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to come back, it was an honour to be asked, as I said, but I did not expect it to be so soon. I suppose the key thing was the support of the players and that was very important to me.
"I worked with a number of them before as coach, selector and manager and particularly the younger group and that the approach was from across the board of players and that was probably the defining factor."
So any early targets to aim for?
“Look, we are going to take the league very seriously, we’ll make that an objective of ours but that does not guarantee anything.
“It’s a stepping stone to the championship, it’s starting quite early at the end of January so it does not give you a lot of time in preparing and given the profile of our players, a lot of them will be involved with colleges.
“But what it does give you is an opportunity to look at a squad of 26 players and that given our championship schedule we are going to need a strong squad because we’ll have three games in Munster one after the other.
“That’s going to be demanding from an injury perspective and we’ll need a squad that will know what they are about and that we can trust them when they are needed.
“We have a squad from this season and we will certainly be looking at integrating players that are available to us, some from last year’s U20 team that have now gone out of that age grade now.
“It’s important that we look at how we’ll develop those that haven’t been in our squad, not necessarily be playing in 2020 but from 2021 on, players who were involved in minor, U21 and U20 All-Ireland finals and getting the most out of them.
“We will be watching as many games as we can that are remaining, all of us and those who haven’t been announced yet."
One of the criticisms of Cork hurling in latter years has been that while we are top heavy on quality but maybe lacking in enforcers, winning the ugly ball that seems to have been a weakness.
“Ya, I suppose that’s a long-playing record. The strength of your team is the mix of your team and the style of play that suits the players but also supporting that style and it’s up to us to get the most out of the players that we have.
“When I was there before we spoke a lot about getting consistency, not alone from game to game but within games.
“We have a lull from game to game and in games. That has been an issue for a while and that is something we must try to eradicate and reduce to a minimum.
“The bar is being raised every year, the standard of hurling, the standard of strength and conditioning, what it takes to win an All-Ireland now, how difficult it is, back to back, even one.
“That is a massive challenge for me going back in. First of all that you believe you have the players that will row in behind you and that can compete at national level. Secondly the support of the County Board and thirdly that you put the best possible people that are available to you around you to ensure that an environment is created and a culture where players can develop, not just as hurlers but people as well."