Cork hurling manager Kieran Kingston is set to remain in his post for a fourth year.
While Kingston’s three-year term as boss came to an end with Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Galway in FBD Semple Stadium, it is being reported that the Tracton clubman was offered a one-year extension in the wake of the game.
The Cork panel are believed to be in favour of such a move – when Kingston returned to the job at the end of 2019, two years after he had initially stepped down, it was based on support from the players.
With no stand-out candidate within the county and Cork traditionally resistant to outside managers, Kingston’s acceptance of the offer as reported by the Irish Examiner would see him ratified again at the next meeting of Cork County Board, to be held on Tuesday, July 5.
Kingston, who played as Cork beat Galway in the 1986 All-Ireland final, guided his home club to the 2010 county premier intermediate hurling final and was part of Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s backroom team when he returned to the Cork job in 2012, assuming the role of coach after Ger Cunningham’s departure for 2013, when Cork made the All-Ireland final.
When Barry-Murphy stepped down after Cork’s exit from the championship in 2015, Kingston moved up to the top job and, though the 2016 campaign was forgettable, Cork – with an infusion of new, young players blooded by Kingston – won the Munster title in 2017.
While he left at the end of that year, citing work commitments, Kingston has been involved with the Douglas senior side in 2019 and was the favoured choice of the majority of the panel when his replacement John Meyler’s two-year stint as manager came to an end.
He had to wait almost a year after his re-appointment for Cork’s first championship game of 2020 due to the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. It proved to be a frustrating year as the Rebels lost to Waterford in the Munster championship and then beat Dublin in the All-Ireland qualifiers before being eliminated by Tipperary.
Last year, Cork lost to Limerick in the Munster SHC semi-final but regrouped in the qualifiers, beating Clare before seeing off Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Kilkenny were seen off after extra time in the semi-finals, giving Kingston experience of the final as a player, coach and manager. Unfortunately for Cork, they fell to Limerick again, losing by 16 points.
Kingston’s backroom was freshened up for 2022 as the departing Ger Cunningham and Christy O’Connor were replaced by Noel Furlong and Pat Mulcahy, with Gary Keegan returning as performance coach, having been involved in Kingston’s first stint. The 2022 Allianz Hurling League campaign was a positive one, with Cork reaching the final for the first time since 2015. That decider also ended in defeat, to Waterford, and that was compounded with defeats to Limerick and Clare in their opening two championship games.
Things turned with the win over Waterford in Walsh Park and third place in the Munster SHC round-robin was secured with a victory away to Tipperary.
An 11-point win away to Antrim in the preliminary quarter-final sent Cork through to meet Galway last Saturday but, trailing by five points at half-time after the concession of two goals, they were unable to bridge the gap, losing by a point.
Kingston was non-committal on his future in the immediate aftermath of the game, but it now appears that he will be back in the Bainisteoir’s bib.