Boost for Cork football as former Kildare boss Cian O'Neill signs on as coach

Boost for Cork football as former Kildare boss Cian O'Neill signs on as coach

Former Kildare manager Cian O'Neill is now on board with the Rebels. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

CORK football manager, Ronan McCarthy, has moved quickly to snap up the experienced Cian O'Neill as a replacement coach for Eddie Kirwan, who stepped down during the summer.

The Kildare-native, who is head of the Department of Sports, Leisure and Childhood studies at CIT, brings a wealth of knowledge and All-Ireland winning know-how to the group.

O'Neill, who spent the last four years with the Lillywhites, will work under McCarthy's stewardship alongside selectors Sean Hayes and Gary O'Halloran.

His first objective will be to guide Cork to promotion from Division 3, something O'Neill sampled with Kildare during his term in charge, earning successive promotions to Division 1, as well as a first Leinster final appearance in eight years and qualifying for the Super 8s in 2018.

O'Neill trained Kerry to the 2014 All-Ireland, having been part of Liam Sheedy's back-room team, four years earlier, when Tipperary won the hurling title.

In between in 2012, O'Neill coached Mayo to the All-Ireland final, spending one year with the Connacht county.

O'Neill is not the only Leinster-man moving to help the fortunes of Cork football because former Laois under-age player, Kevin Smith, has been appointed strength and conditioning coach.

He will work under the newly appointed High-Performance Manager, Aidan O'Connell.

Smith, a former Hogan Cup winner with Knockbeg College, in Carlow, in 2005, joins Cork from the wealthy Stade Francais rugby club in Paris.

He moved there as an S and C coach in 2010 before promoted to Head S and C coach, helping the French win the European Challenge Cup a couple of years ago. Smith is currently completing a PhD at CIT.

The appointments are expected to be the start of a string of announcements by the county board, who have to fill managerial vacancies in senior, U20 and minor hurling, as well as U20 football.

Meanwhile, the first of the county senior football championship quarter-finals takes place on Saturday, when Ilen Rovers and Newcestown collide in Rosscarbery at 5pm.

The winners take on either Duhallow or Clonakily who meet the following weekend.

On Sunday, Ballincollig, the 2014 champions, renew rivalry with Douglas at Páirc Uí Rinn at 3pm. St Finbarr's or Nemo Rangers await the outcome.

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