Saturday 14 December 2019

Cork on new boss lookout after Meyler exit

John Meyler has left the Cork job
John Meyler has left the Cork job

It was one of those strange quirks of timing. At lunchtime in the capital yesterday, former Dublin hurling boss Ger Cunningham was asked if he'd any interest in a return to inter-county management.

Just a couple of hours later came confirmation, from Cunningham's native Leeside, that John Meyler's two-year Rebel reign was over.

The above conversation happened at a Bord Gáis Energy media event to promote the All-Ireland U20 HC semi-finals this weekend.

Needless to say, much of the conversation focussed on Cork's championship demise and what next for Meyler after the completion of his two-year term.

Cunningham wasn't aware of Meyler's thinking and, more generally, was non-committal on a possible county return after his deflating three-year tenure with Dublin, which ended in 2017.

"I went back (coaching) this year with UCC and really enjoyed it," he said.

"Inter-county management is a big commitment from all points of view. It would have to be something to be considered if it was there, at the time it was offered."

Whether the former 'keeper will feature on any Rebel shortlist is hard to know, despite his iconic status as a long-serving player and his coaching reputation.


In the coming weeks, expect plenty of speculation about the likes of Kieran Kingston, who stepped down two years ago after leading Cork to a Munster title - might this be a case of unfinished business?

The progress of the Cork U20s (facing Kilkenny in an All-Ireland semi-final this Saturday) may influence the potential candidacy of their manager, Denis Ring.

And what of Donal Óg Cusack - would the Cork county board be ready to embrace their erstwhile Enemy No 1 from the 'three strikes' era?

In the meantime, Meyler's decision not to seek another term is no huge surprise after a season of inconsistency and relative regression from 2018, when they retained Munster in his first season and almost reached an All-Ireland final.

Their quarter-final loss to Kilkenny spells the end for a manager lauded by county chairperson Tracey Kennedy as an "outstanding servant to Cork GAA in a variety of roles over many years."

Yet, as Cunningham had earlier remarked: "The expectation was there in Cork going up to that quarter-final that they would beat Kilkenny."

As for the future, he expressed hope that the current U20 generation are "potentially good enough to step up and that hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later - while we have good players, the likes of Hoggie (Patrick Horgan), that he's not going to be gone.

"We've got some very good players, but I think they need to be supplemented and maybe I think the style of play … that you know when you're going to play Kilkenny and these teams that it's a different type of game, it's not a shootout."

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