Every day a learning day for Kingston
By John Harrington
Kieran Kingston has done a very impressive job as Cork hurling manager so far this year, but he’s not the type to get carried away with himself.
He’s a confident character to be sure, like most Cork people are, but you could never accuse him of cockiness.
Not only does he admit with the benefit of hindsight he made many mistakes in his first year as Cork manager last year, he’s still adamant he has an awful lot to learn.
“I’m still making them (mistakes), I make them every day,” says Kingston.
“That’s part and parcel of it, every night you go to training or every day you go out with Cork hurling, you’re learning. I would do things differently and so would everybody, that’s part and parcel of it.
“It’s an amateur sport, you’re taking on a huge role, as are the management team, and you’re doing it on a voluntary basis and in your spare time.
“There’s obviously a learning curve but everybody’s learning, I’d say if you spoke to Brian Cody he’d say that he’s still learning!”
One trait of a good manager is the ability to put lessons learned to good use, and Kingston certainly seems to be doing that.
Last year a poor League campaign was followed by an even worse championship as they were beaten well in Munster by Tipp and then knocked out of the All-Ireland series by Wexford.
This year they have been a team transformed having successfully addressed most of the flaws that were exposed last year.
“Yeah, the fact that we were out so early last year gave us plenty time!” says Kingston.
“There’s no question, of course, when a year is over early like last year, you sit down and you reflect on it, ‘What did I do wrong, what did I do right, what do I need to do differently?’ And you go from there.
“We’ve a very open and honest management team and they all gave their feedback on their own performances and the performance of the group and it goes from there, step by step.
“We’re in any way near where we want to be, we’re a developing team, I’ve said this all year. People realise that we’re on a journey here, we’re growing bit by bit.
“We’re not the finished article and there’s nobody saying that, we’re probably two or three years behind Waterford in their development, they’re in their third semi-final in a row.
“We know that we still have an awful lot to do.”
When he sat down with the media at Cork’s pre All-Ireland semi-final press event he tried to push the line that his team were in bonus territory now and most of the pressure was on Waterford.
When it was put to him there was a danger of giving his players a psychological out with that sort of talk, he quick as flash retorted: “I’m saying that to ye guys, but I won’t be saying it them!”
There’s no doubt he’ll be telling his young team this is an opportunity they must take because you don’t know when one like it will come around again.
Confidence in the camp is high after a brilliant campaign in Munster, but Kerrigan admits to a nagging worry that sustaining that high level of form could be tricky for a team with so many inexperienced players.
“That’s always a risk and you plan for that,” he says.
“You’re obviously wishing you don’t and you’re trying to make sure you don’t but it’s a risk with any team, especially when you’ve young players and they’ve a lot done already.
“There are three or four guys who did the Leaving Cert a year ago and now they’re preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final, having played a Munster final, they’ve a lot of miles on the clock for such young lads.
“We have to try and balance all of that.”
Kingston and his players have learned a lot in the past year, but the biggest test yet comes against Waterford in Sunday's All-Ireland SHC Semi-Final.