Shane Kingston feels Cork hurlers have used league well to build a squad

“You’ll only win with a full panel of players and the league is about finding new players and seeing if they can make it."
Shane Kingston feels Cork hurlers have used league well to build a squad

Limerick’s Sean Finn and Shane Kingston of Cork in league action recently. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

IN the finale of the second season of The West Wing – one of the finest episodes of TV drama of all-time – there a flashback to President Jed Bartlet’s schooldays.

The school’s new secretary Mrs Landingham is curious as to why he calls his father, also the headmaster, ‘sir’. He says that he doesn’t wish to make the other boys uncomfortable, but she replies: “But before he was your headmaster, he was your father, right?”

It’s safe to assume that Cork hurler Shane Kingston doesn’t call the team manager, his father Kieran, ‘sir’ but they do try to ensure that there isn’t too much shop talk at home.

“It’s not awkward, to be honest,” he says, “I’ve gotten used to it over the last number of years.

“As you can imagine, he was involved in all of my teams growing up so I’m used to it at this stage and it makes no difference to me.

“Even when he wasn’t involved, he was still within the loop and he has a love for hurling. 

When he gets the chance to talk to me about it, he’s going to do it but we try to keep the Cork stuff separate and leave it for training.”

KEY ROLE

Of course, the Kingstons are not the only interesting family dynamic on the Cork panel, as brothers Patrick and Ger Collins vie for the goalkeeping position. Patrick, who has served as back-up to Anthony Nash since 2016, will make his championship debut against Limerick in the upcoming Munster SHC semi-final and Kingston feels he’s ready, spurred on by the fraternal rivalry.

“Probably the most important person on the pitch these days is the goalie,” he says.

“I think Pa played five years U21 so he’s fairly experienced. Obviously, we’re very sorry to see Nash go as he has been so important to Cork hurling for the past number of years but, look, it’s up to Pa now to try to take over from what Nash left.

“They’re probably used to it now at this stage but I don’t know what it’s like at the dinner table!

“But look, the two of them are on fire, if either one of them plays. They’ve been doing it since they were very young with Ballinhassig. We’re just delighted to have the two of them there.”

In the league, Patrick played four games with Ger starting against Westmeath and out the field there was greater rotation, with Cork using a total of 34 players. Kingston knows just how important it is for the management to have options.

“You can’t win a game now with just 15 players,” he says.

“You’ll only win with a full panel of players and the league is [about] finding new players and seeing if they can make it.

“We’ve a bit of fresh blood and a lot of young fellas coming in and I think they’ve stood up well, to be fair to them.”One of those making an impact is Alan Connolly and Kingston has been impressed by his fellow forward.

“I think he scored 4-2 in the league,” he says, “so obviously that’s unbelievable scoring, to be fair to him.

“He lit up the Cork club championship, he’s a very in-form player and he has brought it into Cork, which is great to see.”

Finishing up a Master’s degree in food business in UCC, Kingston isn’t too preoccupied with the search for employment – “I’m a professional hurler at the moment,” he says. 

Similarly, while he would prefer a return to a white sliotar, he knows it won’t be the winning or losing of the Limerick game.

“I don’t think anything compares to the white ball, to be honest,” he says. “You can’t beat a white [Cummins] All-Star sliotar.

“Just the difference in your strike and sometimes the yellow ball can be moving in the air. Not to be too critical of it but I definitely prefer the white ball and I don’t really understand why you use a yellow ball in the summer.

“You’d be looking at a high ball and you don’t know if it’s the sun or the ball, it’s a bit weird.

Shane Kingston pictured as Cork sponsor Sports Direct unveiled its ‘Born To Play’ campaign for the championship. Photo: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Shane Kingston pictured as Cork sponsor Sports Direct unveiled its ‘Born To Play’ campaign for the championship. Photo: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

“But look, we can’t be too concerned over the ball. It’s the same for everyone so we’ll just have to forget about it.

“I’d say it would be a general consensus to be honest, but at the end of the day, it’s a sliothar. Limerick are going to have the same sliothar next week, so it doesn’t matter, really.”

· 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

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