Kieran Kingston is looking forward to the All Ireland SHC.
Kieran Kingston is looking forward to the All Ireland SHC.

Kingston: 'We’re honoured to be part of something special'

By Cian O'Connell

Kieran Kingston waited and wondered.

As uncertainty swept the world there were days in 2020 when the Cork manager pondered whether there would be Championship hurling at all this year.

"Some days I did, some days I didn’t," Kingston reflects ahead of Saturday's intriguing Munster Championship clash with Waterford at Semple Stadium. 

"At times there was more hope than anything else, but at the back of the mind always we prepared on the basis that it would go ahead at some stage.

"We didn't know when - whether it would be July, as was said in March, or September, or now. It was a challenge for everybody, but of course there were times when everybody was unsure because it wasn’t something we were in control of.

"We’re all on the bus and we want to be on the bus, but none of us are driving it, so we weren’t really in control of our destiny. All we could do was prepare ourselves on the basis that it would happen, and we’re thrilled it is.

"The concern all of us would have is that nobody wants to lose a year of their playing career, a year of the championship. The supporters, everybody, but the players, in particular."

Cork senior hurling manager Kieran Kingston.
Cork senior hurling manager Kieran Kingston.

Behind the scenes significant work continues to be carried out for which Kingston is extremely grateful.

"We have a very good Covid Officer in Dave Nolan, who keeps us on our toes and who does a super job, as well as Dr Colm Murphy and Dr Con Murphy," Kingston states.

"We’re an elite group, but we’re not a professional sports team. We have the bones of 50 people coming together who can’t cocoon when they leave training. "We have eight teachers who have to go back and do their jobs the following day and there are others who interact with people on an ongoing basis. 

"So we have to protect the people in our group, the people in their families and the people they interact with on an ongoing basis. That’s a challenge but it’s the nature of where we are. When we’re together we take every precaution we can to ensure we can continue to participate in this Championship."

The blood red and white jersey always counts in Cork, but in these testing times Kingston accepts the significance of being involved.

"Every player respects the position he’s in, being allowed to play the game," Kingston remarks. "It’s an honour to represent their county any time, but in the year that’s in it, irrespective of the protocols, it’s an honour to represent the county in this year with the lockdown and the hardship and so on. 

"It’s very important to the GAA people in Cork, and to GAA people all over the country, that we can do that and we’re honoured to be part of something special in an extraordinary year."