HERE’S a quite staggering statistic — since Brian Cody took over the managerial reins in Kilkenny there have been 10 managers, one in the hot seat twice, and one interim manager in Cork.
For the record, those were: Jimmy Barry Murphy on two different occasions, Tom Cashman, Bertie Óg Murphy, John Allen, Donal O’Grady, Gerald McCarthy, John Considine, Denis Walsh, Kieran Kingston, and John Meyler.
That is some turnover in a traditional hurling county like Cork.
John Meyler is now the latest to depart the scene and he certainly cannot be accused of not putting in a considerable shift during his term.
In fact, Cork have probably never had a man at the helm who has seen so many games at every level.
The venue or status of the game didn’t matter, Meyler was there at every opportunity. Simply put — if he wasn’t coaching a team, he was watching a game.
There are positives and negatives in every managerial career — only in Cody’s case do the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Donal O’Grady and John Allen left after winning the McCarthy Cup, JBM was very unlucky in 2013 not to have won a second title after securing his first in 1999.
Meyler didn’t get to Croke Park for All-Ireland final day and the defeat to Limerick last year, especially the manner of it, cut deeply. He did get a great Munster final victory in 2018, Cork coming from eight points down to ease their way to victory over Clare.
Cork achieved their initial objective this season of being one of the three teams to emerge from the round-robin series in Munster, and in the minefield that the province has become, that is an achievement in itself.
But there was no consistency in their campaign — one bad day followed by a good one, or vice-versa.
Consistency within games and in campaigns has been a problem for Cork managers for a while now, and it will have to be addressed by whoever is next in charge.
Cork have failed again in their quest for the big prize, but that’s not to say they’re a million miles off either.
The nucleus of a very good team will be there at the start of next season: Mark Coleman, Niall O’Leary, and Colm Spillane will be back, along with Darragh Fitzgibbon, Tim O’Mahony, Alan Cadogan, the superb Patrick Horgan, Shane Kingston, Seamus Harnedy and others.
That’s not a bad starting-off point for the new regime.
The current U20 team, playing today in Portlaoise, is loaded with potential.
Young guns like Sean O’Leary-Hayes, Ger Millerick, Tommy O’Connell, Daire Connery, Brian Turnbull, and Shane O’Regan among others are players for the future.
There will be a need to tightening up, however, Cork have simply been conceding too many scores. Even in the game with Westmeath, they conceded 20 points.
One question that is being posed, should the players have a role in the appointment of the next manager?
They certainly should not be given the choice of selection but, at the same time, their viewpoint must be taken on board.
That might not have happened in another era, but things have moved on quite a lot since then.
And, after all, there is enough maturity and experience in the Cork ranks for them to have an input into the selection, people like Anthony Nash, Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy, among others.
The appointment process must be quick enough to have the right man and his team in place for the latter stages of all the championships.
Let them have a good look at players who might not currently have any part in any squad but could have something to offer.
Cody finds one or two every year in Kilkenny, and it’s not always at senior club level.
So, Meyler departs having put in a fine, honest shift and laying down a solid platform for his successor.
And, no doubt, he will continue to be the great hurling man that he has always been, with still a considerable amount to offer.