Sport

Kingston’s decade of service cannot be overestimated

July 14th, 2022 9:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

Kieran Kingston.

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BY JOHNNY CAROLAN

SINCE the beginning of the 2012 inter-county GAA season, in only three – 2015, 2018 and 2019 – has Kieran Kingston not been a part of the Cork senior hurling management team.

Appointed as a selector by Jimmy Barry-Murphy when he returned to the role at the end of 2011, the Tracton man was promoted to the job of coach for 2013 after Ger Cunningham’s departure and oversaw Cork reaching a first All-Ireland final in eight years, losing to Clare after a replay.

Having taken a year out in 2015, Kingston was the natural choice to replace JBM when he stepped down and, though 2016 was a tough year, foundations were laid and Cork roared back to win the 2017 Munster title.

Unfortunately, defeat to Waterford in the All-Ireland semi-final ended hopes of ultimate glory and Kingston opted out at the end of that year, with John Meyler stepping up from a selector’s role to succeed him.

 

When the Wexford native left after his two-year term, Kingston was the overwhelming choice of the players.

‘At the time, when I did leave in 2017, I had very good reasons for it,’ he said upon his re-appointment.

‘I didn’t rule out, if the opportunity arose, coming back at some stage, but I didn’t think it would be so soon.

‘Once John decided to step down and support came from the players and the people around this table, I said that if I could add something to the group then I still had the hunger and it was an itch I had to scratch again.

‘Once the opportunity came, I grabbed it with both hands.’

Unfortunately for Kingston and Cork, the 2020 season was heavily impacted by Covid and late finish for the county championships impacted the team’s preparations, resulting in a short campaign, but 2021 showed what can be achieved when the potential is unlocked as wins over Clare, Dublin and Kilkenny brough Cork back to the final.

A heavy defeat to a Limerick side that would have beaten the Rest of Ireland was tough to take but Cork responded well to reach this year’s Allianz Hurling League final. Once more, there was heartache as Waterford triumphed and a hangover from that saw Cork lose their opening championship games to Limerick and Clare.

The season hung in the balance but a gritty performance in Walsh Park gave Cork victory over Waterford and further wins over Tipperary and Antrim followed. That things ended with a defeat against Galway where so many mistakes were avoidable will be deeply disappointing for Kingston and his management but such is the nature of sport.

Beyond Limerick, Cork are firmly ensconced in the chasing pack and it will be up to Pat Ryan to elevate them from that but Kingston can be proud of what he has done, even if the All-Ireland wait goes on.

He is the common sideline link to Cork’s last two All-Ireland appearances and two of the three Munster titles since 2006, as well as laying the groundwork for the other. He owes Cork nothing. 

 

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