Sticking with Kieran Kingston or going for a fresh voice dominates Cork hurling agenda

Cork hurling manager's official three-year term is now over but he could seek a third stint at the helm
Sticking with Kieran Kingston or going for a fresh voice dominates Cork hurling agenda

Cork manager Kieran Kingston against Limerick during the Munster SHC at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE Cork County Board faces a huge decision in the coming weeks.

One that will define Cork hurling for the coming years.

Do they reappoint Kieran Kingston as Cork hurling manager, should he seek to stay on? Or does a talented group of players need a fresh voice to try and get back to an All-Ireland final?

It's the major topic of discussion on Leeside since Saturday's frustrating quarter-final exit to Galway, aside from the errors and missed chances that scuppered the Rebels.

The piece I penned for Tuesday's Echo brought the issue to the fore but it would have been remiss of the paper that covers Cork hurling in the most detail not to look at Kingston's position. Hurling means everything to Leesiders, you could see that last Saturday with red geansaís by far the most dominant in the crowd at Thurles.

Kingston's position wasn't on the agenda in 2020 or '21 because his second term officially ran until the conclusion of this championship campaign. Now though, it has to be in focus. Which doesn't mean he won't return. 

The Tracton native might feel he's unfinished business after making the All-Ireland last summer or that the time is right to make way. It's something he's clearly still mulling over.

While in 2017 there was a huge push to retain him after Cork won a thrilling Munster championship and were undone in the All-Ireland semi-final by a red card, there is a call for change from many quarters this time.

SHAKE-UP:

Social media might not be the most measured barometer to read the mood in a county but certainly, the online chatter is that a shake-up is required. Talking to GAA club members and supporters in recent days that's the vibe too.

But the county board must look at the bigger picture. 

Is there a stronger alternative to the current setup? Cork lost at Semple Stadium last weekend in a game where the players simply have to shoulder the bulk of the blame.

Kingston brought in former senior captain Pat Mulcahy and All-Ireland-winning minor manager Noel Furlong as selectors this season while Gary Keegan returned as a performance consultant, with Stephen Casey looking after the S&C. It was a pretty radical overhaul, with Ger Cunningham and Christy O'Connor among those who departed. Results were mixed though, including a league final defeat and three championship losses.

There's regularly a call for an outside manager to come in and offer a unique perspective to Cork hurling, with Davy Fitzgerald a name bandied about time and again, this season coaching the Cork camogie team. Eddie Brennan, Liam Sheedy, Derek McGrath and Anthony Daly have all been thrown out there as options.

Realistically, it's not going to happen.

If Kingston isn't back on the sideline for 2023, Ben O'Connor, who guided Charleville and Midleton to counties lately, and Pat Ryan, dual U20 All-Ireland winner, are obvious front-runners, perhaps even together. Wayne Sherlock was a no-nonsense presence as a selector for the U20s.

Or if Kingston is reappointed, then he might add them to his ticket.

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