Failure to win the All-Ireland hurling championship this year would mean that Cork will have matched the county’s previous longest drought between titles.
If Liam MacCarthy doesn’t winter on Leeside in 2021, the 1903-1919 gap will have been equalled, but it’s not something that Shane Kingston or the rest of the Rebels panel are dwelling on ahead of this year’s championship.
Cork get their Munster championship campaign underway with a semi-final clash against Limerick in Thursday next Saturday, July 3, but Kingston insists that the focus is forward rather than backwards. Certainly, there’s nobody poring over the history books with calculators out.
“No, to be honest,” he said.
“We weren’t around then, so the stuff that’s happened since then, we couldn’t really control, apart from the last few years.
“I suppose every year going into it, you’re looking to win an All-Ireland more so than a Munster title, obviously if you can pick up a Munster title along the way, you’re happy to do so.
“As I said earlier, the stuff that happened 15 or 20 years ago is irrelevant to us, so we’re not too concerned about it.”
Cork’s league was the proverbial curate’s egg, good in parts. Having started off with wins over Waterford and Westmeath sandwiching a draw away to Tipperary, they finished with defeats against Limerick and Galway, but Kingston definitely feel that there were more positives than negatives to take from it.
“Looking back on the league, I suppose we were happy enough with it,” he said.
“We started off very well in the first two or three games. We dipped in the Limerick and Galway games and didn't perform as well as we could have or should have. The league is about building a bit of momentum, trying to find form and take a look at some of the younger fellas and I think evidently that worked out well for us.”
A feature of Cork’s campaign was the willingness to create goal opportunities, resulting in 18 green flags being waved in total. Kingston notched one against Waterford before missing part of the league with a hamstring injury and he is pleased that the side have developed a considerable weapon in their arsenal.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said.
“I suppose over the last few years, we would have been having score-offs with teams, just point after point.
“Obviously, we got a few goals this year, it was something different and it was great to see.
“Previously, we probably would have just taken the handy points. We were lucky enough to get a few goals early on in the league, which helped to build confidence within the squad that, if we take it on, we could probably get a goal out of it rather than take the handy point.
“At the end of the day, you probably need goals to win games and that’s what we’re looking for.”
If Cork are to overcome the Shannonsiders and reach the Munster final, the consensus is that goals will be needed, but – apart from the recent league game – games between the counties have been close contests over the past few years and Kingston expects no different this time around.
“There’s not a lot between the top six or seven teams in hurling anyway,” he said.
“Previously, over the last few years, our games against Limerick have been fairly competitive, so we’re just looking to progress over the next few days and get things right going into the Limerick game and hopefully put in a performance against them.”
- Shane Kingston was speaking as Cork sponsor Sports Direct unveiled its ‘Born To Play’ campaign for the championship. Sports Direct is calling on parents of new-born babies from across the Rebel County to register their baby’s name to be in with the chance of featuring on Cork GAA’s very own walk of fame around Páirc Uí Chaoimh and receive a Cork GAA kit. ‘The Steps To Greatness’ celebrates all new-born babies born in Cork in summer 2021 who – like the greats who have gone before them – are #BornToPlay. The names will be on display outside Páirc Uí Chaoimh ahead of Cork’s Championship openers this season. Parents can register their baby’s name by visiting: https://bit.ly/SportsDirect-BornToPlay