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Who are the contenders to become the next Cork senior hurling manager?

There is a vacancy on Leeside.

Some of the potential candidates to be the next Cork manager.
Some of the potential candidates to be the next Cork manager.

CHANGE IS ON the way in Cork hurling after Kieran Kingston’s announcement this evening that he will not be seeking a further term as senior boss.

Kingston had two different spells as manager, 2016-17 and 2020-22, winning a Munster title in 2017 and steering Cork to last year’s All-Ireland final. Prior to that he was involved with Jimmy Barry-Murphy in the Cork management setup in selector and coaching roles.

The attention now turns to who will fill the vacancy and take charge for next year?

Here are some potential candidates that may figure in the race.

Pat Mulcahy

The Newtownshandrum man captained Cork as a player and has filled them position as selector this year under Kingston, joining the setup last winter. He was an established boss at third level with Cork IT in the Fitzgibbon Cup and has also been involved with his club’s senior team in recent years.

Ben O’Connor

A celebrated figure in his playing days, O’Connor was a star attacker and linked up to brilliant effect on Cork teams with his twin brother Jerry. Since retiring he has been cultivating a fine reputation as a coach. Took Charleville, a neighbouring club in North Cork to his native Newtownshandrum, up to the senior ranks with a county premier intermediate crown in Cork and they subsequently reached an All-Ireland final at that grade. Last year he impressed with his work with Midleton, the East Cork side claiming a first senior hurling title in eight seasons. Currently in a position with Kerry side St Brendan’s from Ardfert.

Pat Ryan

The Sarsfields man is another figure with huge experience from his playing days and his club roles with the Glanmire-based outfit. Was the Cork coach alongside Kingston during that first spell the Tracton man had as manager. Ryan subsequently took over the county U20 team, delivering two All-Ireland titles last summer. They won the delayed 2020 crown at the expense of Dublin and then sparkled in the 2021 final success over Galway. Former  Cork defender Wayne Sherlock worked closely with him in that setup.

Noel Furlong

The Carrigtwohill man also joined the Cork senior hurling management team last year as Kingston sought to freshen things up. A former county underage player and a senior winner with his club in 2011 in Cork, Furlong then had roles with UCC Fitzgibbon Cup outfits and junior side Russell Rovers, steering the latter to county and provincial titles before they featured in an All-Ireland final. Last year he was at the helm as the Cork minor hurlers won the county’s first All-Ireland title at that grade in two decades.

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fergal-ryan Blackrock's Fergal Ryan. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Fergal Ryan

The Blackrock man is another with extensive playing experience, successful with both club and county at senior hurling levels. On the managerial front he was in charge of the Blackrock hurlers in recent times. He helped them qualify for the Cork county final in 2017, losing out to divisional side Imokilly, before then masterminding the club’s first title in 18 years when they won an epic encounter in October 2020.

Outside voice…

Cork’s established policy is to appoint managers from within the county and it is difficult to see that tradition being altered. There may be a clamour for an outside influence in some quarters. Clare’s Davy Fitzgerald is currently involved in Cork with the county senior camogie team in a coaching capacity, Tipperary’s Liam Sheedy has recent success in steering his native county to All-Ireland wins.

Those would appear at this stage longshots with the sense that the next manager will be a local candidate.

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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